What the hell is that noise? The noise is
A character within the story hears something odd. Unnatural. When they hear the sound once, it may not be that terrifying, but as time passes, they become more and more frightened. The sound gets as they gain more and more relevance. Given time, the sound comes to haunt them, even away from the source. The sound has taken on a nightmarish relevance because of the setting. The sound could come from anywhere
The trope isn't limited to a sentence, a catch phrase, or a song. The sound that terrifies the character can be made by the living, such as footsteps, a laugh, the call of a loud little animal
. The sound may be made by the non-living, such as the creak of a chair, a door, a bouncing ball, the crackle of radio static
, or any one of hundreds of other seemingly mundane noises.
This isn't a Brown Note
, a sound or image that causes involuntary action/harm. This trope is about the psychological effect of the character hearing noises that to a person in a story. See also Hearing Voices
, which can also be this depending on what kind of voices they are, and Nothing Is Scarier
, which is almost the Visible Silence
version of this. Sinister Scraping Sound
is an intentional, psych-out type of hellish noise; if a noise foreshadowing a threat is produced by something attached to, or ingested by, that threat, it's The Croc Is Ticking
Contrast Most Wonderful Sound
, which people are happy to hear. Compare and
contrast Scare Chord
, where the audience learns to fear the music.
- The Ur Example may very well come from Classical Mythology. The god Pan loved to scare the shit out of lonely travelers by hiding nearby and letting out a bloodcurdling scream. Ever wonder where we get the word "panic?" Now you know.
- One musical example of this trope is found in Mr. Bungle's "The Bends". The entire 10-minutes-plus song is an instrumental with a varied underwater theme. The hell comes in the final minute, when the diver realizes he has run out of air, and the ensuing mad dash to the surface. The build-up of the sound is bad enough, but the true horror comes at the dead silence at the very end, implying that he didn't make it. Jump to 9:55 for the effect