It’s October and that means it’s the hallowed time of year when people gather with their nearest and dearest and watch scary movies on the lead up to Halloween. One of my clearest childhood memories is of hiding behind my father’s recliner while my parents watched John Carpenter’s Halloween. Despite being scared as a child, the movie has become one of my favorite of all time. I am surrounded by friends who adore horror movies and I listen to several film podcasts on a weekly basis. It seems as though we are in a new, glorious age of horror and I badly want to be a part of it, but I can’t.
Have you ever heard of the Robert De Niro/Dakota Fanning movie Hide and Seek?
Chances are you haven’t. It came out 10 years ago and it was not very good. I remember it, however, because I embarrassed the crap out of myself watching it in the theater with my best friend and one of her housemates in college. While it was not a good movie, it was full of cheap jump scares and I yelped my way through it, curled up in a ball in my seat. I’m a sensitive person, very in touch with my emotions and tense, suspenseful movies are an endurance trial for me. Sometimes when horror movie trailers play before a non-horror movie I’m about to see I have to plug my ears and close my eyes because those things are all jump scares and it’s just not fair! I came to see Trainwreck not to get the bejesus scared out of me by a trailer for The Woman in Black 2 thank you very much!
On the rare occasion that I do watch one these movies these days, it’s pretty much always in the comfort of my own home where I can get up, pace, or leave the room altogether to cut the tension. Buckets of blood, guts, and gore don’t get to me, it’s the knowing that something is coming and waiting for it to happen that does it. It doesn’t even have to be a “scary” movie. A scene in a regular drama where someone’s got a gun and you’re waiting for it to go off can drive me just as mad with anxiety. I guess it’s just something about my disposition in general that makes it hard for me to deal with one of the most vital parts of making a horror movie great. But guys, it sucks!
I am a movie fanatic. I pay attention. I’m informed. I liked to see everything I possibly can from Marvel films to Korean monster movies to classic screwball comedies. But as an amateur cinefile I feel like I am majorly missing out and doing a disservice to myself by not being able to stomach this whole genre of film; of great, innovative, and exciting film. I’ve seen my share of the classics: the aforementioned Halloween, The Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2, The Exorcist, The Shining, The Thing, Psycho, Alien, Friday the 13th. I’ve even managed to catch a few newer films like Let the Right One In, Paranormal Activity, and Cabin in the Woods. I was once forced against my will to watch The Strangers and thought I might never sleep again. But there is A LOT that I have not been able to subject myself to:
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
28 Days Later
The House of the Devil
Drag Me to Hell
…and most importantly of all, Crimson Peak…
Guillermo del Toro is one of my heroes, a visionary artist who adores movies and film culture. Crimson Peak looks incredible and I HAVE TO SEE IT. I HAVE TO SEE IT IN THE THEATER. It looks terrifying though. I’ve no doubt the dread will be palpable and the suspense never ending. You can tell your doctor you’re not so fond of flying and getting a prescription for Xanax. Why can’t an innocent film fan do the same with horror movies? Is there precedent for cinefile anti-anxiety prescriptions?