In Joe Hill’s excellent Heart-Shaped Box, there is a small side story about a little girl that once went missing. A ghostly reenactment of what happened to her is witnessed by the main character, Judas Coyne. It isn’t terribly consequential to the story overall, but is nonetheless chilling and impactful. I’m a bit of a sucker for moments like this.
The Japanese film The Vampire Doll has such a moment, in which a doctor tells a ghost story that lasts a little over a minute. It’s about as brief of a detour as an already short movie ought to allow, but it’s surprisingly memorable and effective despite–or maybe because of–how short and matter of fact it is. The doctor uses the story–his experience, really–to explain why he, “a man of science,” is open to the existence of the supernatural. It also influences another character, Hiroshi, to reconsider his skepticism regarding fiancée’s claim that she (Keiko) actually saw someone who was supposed to be dead. Honestly, even if it served no purpose at all, I wouldn’t mind. In fact, I wish more stories could take a quick moment to tell us about other horrors and eerie mysteries within their universe beyond the one that is the focus of the plot.