Sunday, December 30, 2012

For 2013: I Want To Be Scared

I hear this a lot: "That didn't scare me, and besides, I don't believe in ghosts (or fill in the blank), so this couldn't happen anyway."

I find that a little perplexing.

We react vicariously to fictional situations all the time. We laugh and weep at romances that are imaginary. We grip our chair arms as heroes scale great heights or battle impossible odds. We turn pages to find out if fictional defendants will be acquitted. That's entertainment.

Yet it's horror that really seems to get the jaw set.

Maybe it's that scary books and films represent a challenge to a lot of people. It's as if they're an affront to individual bravery, so many don't want to admit jumping at a film, let alone being subtly chilled by a fiction's crafted atmosphere.

As I contemplate that, I find myself agreeing with Matt Zoller Seitz's semi-controversial contention on Indie Wire that audiences were not watching From Russia With Love in the right frame of mind. OK, he said the film's not unsophisticated, you are.

I suppose I went through a phase where I felt similarly to many about horror. I've been at points where I felt too jaded as a viewer or reader to feel scared. I don't know that I was scared by The Exorcist when I saw it the first time. I probably wasn't watching it right.

But happily I've mellowed and learned to relax. I got nothin' to prove.

I was scared by The Exorcist several years ago when Netflix was new, Christine was taking grad school classes at night, and I had a couple of hours to view it alone in an empty house with the lights turned off.

When Ellen Burstyn checked out the attic, I reacted with her, the way the filmmakers intended.

When the first demonic face appeared on the wall in Insidious as I watched that several years later, I jumped again and even tweeted that a film had given me a legitimate scare.

Ditto watching Paranormal Activity, which I know many of my friends got an MST3K-style laughfest out of viewing. I can remember a laugh riot with one of my buddies watching Revenge of the Creature twenty years after its release. That's one way to watch a horror movie.

Or you can sit back and jump out of your skin when pots fall or symbols from The Lesser Key of Solomon are revealed in an old lady's living room.

I started thinking about all this anew when reading a blogger's 10 best list. Can't find it again, but it was a good list, and the author urged readers not to laugh that she'd included The Pact, having watched alone late and night and felt a chill. It's a modestly budgeted but quite decent haunted house tale with some cool chills, so no apologies should really be needed.

I resolve not be jaded as I experience films, books, comics and games in 2013. I want to be scared when I watch a scary movie.

If you don't, what are you watching for?


Charles Gramlich said...

I got a few chills out of Dream House. But your resolution is well taken. I'll try as well.

Sidney said...

I need to watch Dream House.

Erik Donald France said...

Happy 2013, dude ~ cheers ~!

Sidney said...

Happy New Year, Erik!

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