I’m 26 years old, and scary movies terrify me. Hell, trailers for scary movies terrify me. I know it’s fake blood. I know nobody is really dying. But it’s the bullshit tactics that these movies employ that get to me. It’s kind of like fake noise being pumped into an arena, or a particularly annoying laugh track for a TV show (by the way, I know I’ve been doing this a long time when I can start referencing past posts left and right). But it works on me. And with post-modern horror movies, it’s always the same shit. It’s quiet. The girl turns, and there’s a crescendo. But nothing’s there. She turns again to resume her path… and BANG. Not only do I have a weak stomach for violence, but I’m a jumpy person. I can’t deal with the mind games, the trickery, and everything else; I’m liable to have a heart attack.
The only movie remotely part of the horror genre that I’ve seen in the theater is Scream 3. Being a slasher flick, it was more satirical than anything else. Still, it was intense. I remember being on edge from the opening sequence. I guess the fact that I know people are going to die just throws off my entire thought process. Even during normal dialogue, I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Who’s going down? How’s it going to happen? Where’s the killer? Turn around! Basically, the nature of the genre removes all the conventional movie-making rules from my head. I become a complete mess. I recall walking into the middle of The Haunting with some friends once to kill time (while waiting for Inspector Gadget or something terrible), and all that was onscreen was Catherine Zeta-Jones and company walking through a hallway. Yet, I was messed up. The theater seemed cold. There was a chill… probably because we were in the back by the door. But it was almost claustrophobic, and I got the fuck out of there.
I watched Final Destination from a friend’s couch through my fingers (it evolved to not watching at all, “through” a pillow). I watched The Sixth Sense with my head down in the seat next to me. I realize the latter is not a horror movie by any stretch of the imagination, but as I’ve indicated, it’s really the atmospheric intensity, the methodical nature and the suspense that really get to me. Now, I’m not completely useless. With some strategic eye-closing and ear-covering, I got through Cloverfield fine. Red Eye was a breeze. I made it through Valentine and the two Last Summer movies at home with no problem (then again, if Jennifer Love Hewitt and Sarah Michelle Gellar had made 2girls1cup, I might consider watching that too*). Underworld, Scream, Hollow Man? Easy shit.
*That was hyperbole; I would actually not consider watching that.
Okay, so I realize that none of the movies I’ve named are exactly the stalwarts of classic horror. Today though, I made progress. Yes, I was aware of the chest burster and the face hugger from popular culture. Yes, I was at home with the sun out and the shades open, the door closed and the volume down, and my hand was there to shield parts of the screen. But dammit, I dealt with the face hugger dropping from the ceiling. I didn’t do more than gasp during the android reveal, or jump more than a foot with the last bit aboard the shuttle. I dealt with the table clattering, Brett going after the goddamn cat, and Lambert as she stood still as a statue. Today, I watched Alien from start to finish. Even enjoyed it. Baby steps.