A Bump in the Night

April 28, 2013

A Bump in the Night

Last night, I was over at Alan’s house. It was just a small get together that eventually fizzled down to us watching movies on Alan’s computer, which was hooked up to David’s projector. It was like our own personal movie theater.

Anyway, we started with Mama and eventually worked our way to Superman: Doomsday. As we worked through a few movies, we progressively got more and more slap-happy. Late night movie watching can get that way. Stupid things made us laugh hysterically. Small scares in Mama made us scream. And the ground started to feel like the plushiest bed we’d ever lain in.

While we were watching Mama, a few of the guys expressed a distaste for scary movies, and it got me thinking about why I enjoy a good (or bad) scary movie. When I was younger, I thought I hated scary movies and I refused to watch them. Especially because I was already scared of the dark. I didn’t need another reason to be afraid every night before bed. Nowadays, I look forward to watching crappy scary movies on Netflix.

Once you start perusing through horror flicks, you notice some patterns. There are only a few kinds of scary movies. There are ones with senseless gore like Saw or Final Destination. There are ones about explorers or scientists that “went too far” like The Cave or Splice or The Descent. There are ones about demons or possessions like The Exorcism or The Possession. There are ones with spooky, little, supernatural jump-scares like Paranormal Activity or Mama. There are shaky camera movies like Cloverfield or The Blaire Witch Project.  There are ones about killers stalking through the night like Friday the 13th or My Bloody Valentine or House of Wax. And finally, there are classics like the works of Alfred Hitchcock that realize the scariest monsters are the ones we don’t see.

Whether I’m sitting on the edge of my seat watching a suspenseful Paranormal Activity or looking for a barf bag as I cringe at a gruesome Saw, I enjoy scary movies. And I think it has a lot to do with feeling alive. Scary movies (like haunted houses and roller coasters) are like this safe way to electrocute your entire body with excitement. It’s a way to be reminded that you’ve got a heart ready to pump adrenaline through your veins at a moments notice. It’s a way to unashamedly let out a scream you didn’t realize you were holding in. It’s a way to laugh at yourself as you contort your body in weird ways to shelter it from the cinematic threat. It’s a way to feel human. Because being scared is what makes humanity great.

Without fear, we’d never be courageous. As the Third Doctor said: “Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.”

Scary movies are great because they give us all a chance to be courageous, to be Supermen. Then, maybe someday when we’re faced with something truly scary…We can remember that we escaped Jason and Freddy Krueger and Mike Meyers. We survived the Bates Motel. We vanquished Toby and eradicated Jigsaw. What’s left to fear, right?

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)