In Search for the Ultimate Scare.

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. You pop in a new horror movies that everyone has been talking about. The kind that has swept the nation as “the scariest movie of the year.” You’re excited. You’re ready to shake in your boots and then half way through you realize… you can predict every single scare the movie throws at you.

You’re not alone. This is a very real issue that has plagued horror movies since their existence. Being desensitized to the scares. You’ve seen so many horror movies that there’s nothing they can throw at you that surprises you anymore. Been there. Done that. The suspense doesn’t seem palpable. The violence doesn’t seem shocking. It’s all just…there.

Texas Chainsaw Massacre Door

Truth be told, this is an issue that can plague any film buff from any genre. After a while you get to know all the tricks – and there only comes a special few every couple years that really surprises you. Makes you believe in the magic again.

But with horror it is especially concerning. Why? Because it’s the easiest thing to lose and the hardest to get back. To me, being scared is more of an experience. While maybe you can say that about any film (or anything in life really), I find that scares aren’t always tied to something tangible like good writing, directing, and acting. Those things are certainly important. Of course they are! But I’ve seen some brilliantly made horror movies that never scared me and also watched dozens of terrible movies that somehow manage to creep me the hell out.

That’s why I think it’s less about what the movies do to scare us – but what we do to keep ourselves scared. This is the main reason why I’ve been finding myself getting bigger thrills from the fantastic collection of horror video games that have hit the market. It’s a new way to experience terror. A brand new experience.

For example, my very first experience watching R-rated violence was in Speed, of all movies. When Dennis Hopper straight up stabs a man in the side of the head my job dropped and I probably made a terribly embarrassing yelp. It’s not even that bad. It’s not even horror. It’s just the first time I ever saw anything like that. I didn’t even know the head could bleed so much (ahhh… youth). I wish I could feel that way about horror again.

The Ring Closet Face

This will ALWAYS still scare me though.

So the big question is, how can we change the way we perceive horror? How do we make ourselves ready to be scared again? Sometimes it’s just simple things. I’ve realized I am way more susceptible to scares when I watch a movie alone – so I tend to hit up horror movies on VOD rather than joining the large crowd in the theater. My basement is also creepy as shit with the lights off – so ideally I watch the movies at night.

These are small things, but effective for me. You just need to really find out what scares you. Is it a specific place? A specific memory? Hey, let’s not shit ourselves – maybe it’s drugs. Whatever it is, you have to live in it. You have to relive it. Leave the rest of the world and your history behind. Try to go into it as blank as possible. Man, I’m starting to sound really zen here…

At the end of the day, the key word I can’t help but keep harping on is experience. If you’re feeling down about horror lately and are really looking to get scared, save that next hyped up horror movie for the right experience. Don’t just rush into it and watch the film any old way. Make sure it’s the right way. The way that will leave you most vulnerable to freaking out.

Trust me. You only get to see a movie for the first time once. Don’t spoil it. Bring it all back to what made you first fall in love with scares in the first place. It will feel oh-so-good to be back home.

Comments

comments