What makes a horror/thriller/evil character intriguing to you?
What is it within a book character's description or dialogue that really makes them intriguing/unsettling/effective in your mind?
I always liked Doctor Phibes as a villain because he got very artistic with his revenge murders. I know he was mainly a movie villain but there was also a book series. I think they did comic books too.
There was always a certain amount of poetic justice to his crimes. Plus, I could understand his motivation and why he was so hacked off since he blamed the people he killed for the death of his beloved wife.
Was he creepy and obsessive? Absolutely, but there was something very human and relatable under it all. He is sort of the villain and the underdog all rolled into one. What he did, he did out of true love. That to me is more interesting than say Voldemort who seemed to be evil for the sake of being evil.
There's a little more to Voldemort than that--his Muggle parents treated him like garbage, so he had a thing where he wanted to create a world without Muggles and populated only by wizards.
"Every drop of magical blood spilled is a terrible waste."
Technically Merope, his mum, was a witch. "Every drop of magical blood spilled is a terrible waste." He kills a ton of wizards. He is an evil dirt bag to his own followers. He enslaved them. Not a lot to like about old Voldie.
None of them. I have no interest in characters that range from whatever someone imagined up as an evil character to, maybe, characters (real or imagined) that hat are so so damaged or flawed that that they are evil through-and-through (or even that they're able to commit evil. I may put up with some limited "exposure" to evil characters if a story limits the reader's exposure to them and is otherwise an intriguing story; but I find nothing whatsoever intriguing about damaged, evil, characters themselves.
In my mind, the best evil character is one that the audience can relate to. They say the things we want to say, or seek justice for the things we've found unjust. They just do it in a way that is extreme and (eventually) crosses a line. Harvey Dent's line from the Dark Knight perfectly sums it up: "You either die the hero or live long enough to become the villain". The villains of today were the heroes of yesterday. That's my favorite kind of evil character.
When the character's philosophy lines up with my own, except they use it to commit harms. For me that means I understand why the character is doing what they are doing, despite the fact that I would never commit the same actions. THAT makes a good antagonist -- when you relate on the most human levels, even though the outcome is completely different.
When you can relate to a character (good, bad) it automatically bonds you to them. If you can't relate at all, you are against the character and simply watching them from afar. The only way you can make a reader support the bad guy is justifying their bad actions with reasonable things.
Ex: "I tortured him for three days, and all I could think of was my little girl being raped and beaten by him."
On some level we understand the concept of love, and how it would feel if a loved one was seriously harmed, so the character's choice for revenge becomes understandable. And that's intriguing. We get to read about a character who is motivated by the same things, only does things that we couldn't/wouldn't.
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