Scary movies don’t scare me. I’m able to effortlessly separate what’s real from what someone imagined, and the only real feeling I have when watching thriller/horror films is an adrenaline rush. That feeling is addicting, like the sensation of being on a roller coaster, the rise of anticipation and release of the fall. In movies, it’s the thrill of being surprised by something, and then the breath of relief when the shock melts away. Most “scary” movies rely on this technique; what we see isn’t actually frightening, it’s just surprising. Cliche horror movies take away the element of surprise with music that tells me something is coming up, camera work that betrays the monster behind the door or around the corner, and dialogue that awkwardly sets up an opportunity for a character to be killed (“Let’s split up,” “I’m just going to go for a walk”). With so many cliches embedded into the moviegoer’s mind, it takes a creative force to truly surprise anyone anymore.
The only types of scary movies that bother me are exorcism movies (because of their inaccuracy) and, for some reason, witch movies. I once saw a brief clip of “The Craft” and had nightmares for days. I think the witch thing is because when I was younger and a member of a family that rejected the Harry Potter series as a manual for learning witchcraft, I had to watch a documentary about all the evils in Harry Potter. The movie included footage of actual ceremonies conducted by witches and clips from movies much scarier than anything in Harry Potter. The ominous music and flashing images of demons and hell made me feel as if witches were everywhere, disguised as California-blonde teenagers, silently cursing me. It shook me up pretty bad. I wish I could have just read Harry Potter.
For me, fear is reserved for real things, like someone I love dying. Despite my share of irrational worries, I’m a rational person, and the chances of me being haunted by a ghost or chased by a chainsaw-wielding giant are pretty much null, so I have no reason to be afraid of those things. I just like being surprised by them, when they’re safely locked inside a screen. I don’t like haunted houses or what Valley Fair does every Halloween, because that’s too real, and I don’t trust myself to not hurt the actors out of an animal need to survive. I’ll just stick to movies and TV.
Favorite horror/thriller movies (not in any order):
The Others (2001)
The Thing (1982)
The Cabin In The Woods (2012)
Jacob’s Ladder (1990)
The Silence of the Lambs (1990)