Fear Factor

Christina Socci ‘13, Opinion Editor

I hate scary movies. Granted, there is something oddly comforting about watching a scary movie with friends and screaming together at all of the OH-GOD-HE’S-RIGHT-BEHIND-YOU moments. In general though, because my father delighted in lying to my brother and me—he told us that clay people lived in our basement walls and they would SLURRRRCH out and trap us in their dank, dark clay world forever—I’m a certified scaredy cat. I can’t help but jump every time the house creaks well after the movie has ended. I firmly close my closet door at night and make sure my monster-deflecting blanket is pulled up tight to my chin. And yes, I am still unreasonably terrified of being alone in my basement. Thanks, Dad.

Yet, in a perverse sort of way, I always say yes when someone suggests watching a scary movie. I even decided on my own accord to watch “20 scariest movie moments of all time” on late-night TV alone in my house. I then decided immediately afterward to do laundry in the basement. Of course, I had nightmares for an entire month because of a random two minute clip from “Paranormal Activity” and couldn’t do laundry without hyperventilating.

Perhaps watching scary movies is like going on roller coasters. If you ask me, I will tell you that I love roller coasters. I will swear to you, while waiting in line, that I’ve been waiting all day to ride the Mega Death Spiral 3000. I will probably even suggest we sit up front. Then I will grip your hand in a sudden burst of fear/panic as soon as the ride starts moving and scream myself blue during the ride. When it’s all over and after I’ve dry heaved into a nearby flowerbed, I guarantee that I will ask you to ride it again.

The same goes for scary movies: I can’t help but watch them, even if it’s only through the cracks in my fingers. As for why I do this to myself on a regular basis, I’m not entirely sure. Perhaps watching scary movies stems from a desire to stare down my irrational fear of things- that-go-bump-in-the-night. Werewolves? Vampires? Zombie death squads? There are a billion and a half things that are scarier than that in the real world. Show me your ghouls and I’ll show you tax returns, unbalanced check books, and the 24 hour news cycle.

And maybe that’s the point. Life itself is scary enough without the monsters that lurk on the silver screen. In fact, it’s rather a welcome blessing to worry about scary movie villains, because at least they can be understood and (theoretically, depending on the sadism of the screenwriters) potentially defeated in a direct way. In fact, I’ll take zombies and ghosts any day. At least I know the rules already. Don’t go upstairs to investigate the weird noises. Don’t build your house on a burial ground of any kind, ever. Don’t read the Latin inscription on the mysterious talisman you found at a garage sale. Try applying the same logic to financial planning and job searches. When it comes down to it, I’d rather be afraid of the things I can control. At least when the movie gets too scary, I can close my eyes until it’s over.