Life with Horror Movie Phobia
When you and your loved ones disagree over horror movies, here’s how to prevent your differences from (metaphorically) tearing you apart.
By Jill Phelan, St. Vincent College
There are two kinds of people in this world: those that love horror flicks, and those that are terrified at the mere thought of them.
I am the latter of the two.
Thankfully, my fiancé shares my opinions on all things creepy (not worth our time and sanity), but my closest friends absolutely love spooky stuff, which can be rough every now and then.
In fact, Kelli and Caitlin would probably move in with the Adams Family tomorrow if they had the chance and live every day as if it were Halloween—I bet that would be a dream come true for them. Caitlin’s room is already decorated with spiders and skulls year round, so I’m guessing it wouldn’t be much different for her.
And then there are the people that think scary movies are funny. To all of you who fall under such a category, find some new form of entertainment, you psychopaths. Seriously, a good old-fashioned Rom Com doesn’t tickle your funny bone, yet you find blood and guts to be chuckle worthy? Seems a bit backwards to me.
But back to my friends and me—it can be difficult when all of my gal pals want to get together and watch “American Horror Story” or go see the latest “Paranormal Activity” when I would rather do absolutely anything else. I’m talking bungee jumping, sky diving, rock climbing, shooting up heroin—literally anything but scary movie going (ok, you got me, I’d never actually go sky diving).
However, I also hate saying no to the people I love, so occasionally I’ll sit through a half hour of screams and gore for some quality female bonding. It’s not my favorite, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make (sometimes).
The problem for me, though, is not the mere act of watching the ghost of a serial killer murder an innocent bystander—I can pretty much witness a bloodbath without batting an eye. No, the real issue lies in what happens to my mind after I’ve endured a frightening scene.
As a creative writer, I have a very active imagination, one that I can’t easily turn on and off. So if I watch a demon steal someone’s soul on screen, I won’t be able to get that image out of my head for days, and the little seed of horror will only grow more terrifying and gruesome each time my head hits the pillow in my pitch black bedroom. Sleep tight, don’t let the man-eating zombies bite.
Even if I try to talk myself out of my own twisted thoughts using logic and sound reasoning, fear is a very hard feeling to overcome. Just ask Chicken Little.
As I hide under my comforter at night, I’ll think to myself, “What makes me so special that a murderer would want to waltz into my house in the middle of some random suburb where nothing bad ever happens, somehow know exactly where my bedroom is and kill me in cold blood for absolutely no good reason? And even then, how is burying myself under my covers going to provide me any sort of protection?”
My blankets are unfortunately not bullet proof, nor can they repel blades, although somebody should invent such safety features if they haven’t already. They could be called “Safety Sheets.” But I digress.
In response to my internal queries, my brain would reply, “The ones who think that nobody would come after them are the ones that end up dying in the movies.”
I bet you can guess which mental voice I always listen to.
Yup, I proceed to lock my door and (barely) sleep with the light on for the remainder of the night like a scaredy cat.
I asked one of my friends once if these feelings of insomnia were common among horror flick watchers or if it was just me.
She told me, “Oh yeah, I love being so afraid that I can’t fall asleep.” And no, she was not being sarcastic.
So maybe people who gravitate toward scary movies are just some sort of strange thrill seekers, but personally, I can’t bring myself to that level of torture simply for an adrenaline rush.
Instead, when I’m craving a little adventure, I’ll read a book, or perhaps I’ll even go white water rafting. I know, crazy stuff right there.
But I know that I can’t avoid cinematic horror altogether, as upsetting as that may be. I will still have my moments where my friends coerce me into watching “just one” episode of “The Walking Dead” or come endure “The Purge” with them.
It’s hard to be a sane, rational individual who evades extreme violence and the supernatural like the plague in a society obsessed with murder mysteries and demon conjurings.
I accidentally look at a trailer for “The Exorcist” for five seconds too long and I’m ruined for a week—no rest for the paranoid. Thanks for that, Hollywood.
If you’re like me and you’re easily spooked, I want to let you know that it’s going to be ok. There are others out there just like you and me who would much rather watch “Scrubs” over “The Silence of the Lambs.”
But that doesn’t mean you can’t live in a world with scary movie lovers either (unless of course you’re trying to date my friend Kelli—she vowed she could never be with someone who didn’t share her passion for horror flicks—but it’s ok, not everyone is as particular as her).
The two opposing sides can still happily coexist so long as everybody is respective of each other’s views—and so long as nobody forces me to watch anything based on a Steven King novel.
And probably the best way to keep the peace among the Pro-Horror and the Pro-Sanity is to follow the same golden rule you would for the topics of religion, politics, and sexuality: if you want to make friends, don’t talk about it.