The first thing we have to know about this term is its etymological origin and this is found in Latin. Specifically, we can determine that it derives from “sublight”, which can be translated as “under the shadow”.
Somber is a adjective that qualifies the space that has poor lighting and where shadows abound . In shady places, therefore, visibility is reduced : “This restaurant is a bit bleak, it didn't even read the menu”, “The hotel is located in a shady street”, "We need to add another lamp to the room to prevent this gloomy".
Because the darkness is associated with the sadness and the melancholia , the gloomy adjective allows us to rate sites that cause those feelings. A gloomy place, in this sense, is dreary, macabre or scary : "I don't like this house, it seems bleak", “The forest, bleak, hid creepy secrets”, "The girl refused to spend the night in the shady shelter that generated an unusual fear".
In this way, there are spaces that are defined as bleak by this double characteristic: on the one hand, they lack light (physically); on the other, that lack of light causes negative issues to be attributed to them and they become sites that generate fear, distress, etc. This can happen with an old house, a precarious cabin or a dead end.
Due to the characteristics that are associated with the shady places, it is usual that in many novels and horror films such scenarios are established in order to generate the necessary climate of fear and anguish that is required. A perfect example of this can be found in the film "Sleepy Hollow" (1999), directed by Tim Burton and starring Johny Depp and Christina Ricci.
In the population that gives title to the production is where the story is located, which is really scary. And, taking advantage of the night, a headless horseman is dedicated to entering the houses of the neighbors to end their lives. However, there are those who believe that this is not possible, that it must be someone of flesh and blood who commits these crimes, so a police officer will be sent to investigate the case.
Precisely that town, to create the sensation of dread desired, is gloomy, always in darkness, its buildings are very dark, there are environmental places that are absolutely abandoned, the color black everywhere, the characters are dressed in dark tones ... And that is how the perfect environment is generated to develop the plot and to generate the anguish that the neighbors of Sleepy Hollow live.
Occasionally, the bleak is directly linked to something symbolic or spiritual , without any relation to an absence of light in the physical sense That is why it can be said that a certain situation or that a thought is bleak: “I spent five months without work: it was a bleak moment of my life”, “When my mother passed away, I lived a dark time”, "That man is gloomy, I don't trust him".