The Harbinger Online

Muting Scary Movies

There’s a black screen and then static. Chirping crickets sound in the background as the ad for another horror film plays on Youtube – and yet again, I’m furiously slamming the *lower volume* button on the side of my iPhone.

I attempt to distract myself for the next 30 seconds while the ad plays. I start the countdown and lift my eyes to the ceiling. I like the texture, but I wish we could repaint the brown of that wall. It looks gross next to the white of the ceiling. 20 seconds. Is that a spider in my lightbulb? It better not be. 10 seconds. God, I really need to re-do my nails. Maybe I’ll have time to do that tomorrow night.

Three. Two. One.

Phew. It’s over. I turn the volume back up, and carry on.

I overreact during every movie: I’ve wept each of the nine times I’ve seen “Rent” and I even shed a tear watching “The Velveteen Rabbit” during the Rep Children’s Shows. These tears translate into uncontrollable fear when it comes to anything remotely scary. Scary movies have always been hard to watch for me.

This fear was previously easy to avoid – I just didn’t watch scary movies. But in the past year or so, it’s created a problem for my social life. I stay home from scary movie marathons in a friend’s basement because I know I won’t sleep for days afterward. Just a few weeks ago, a group of friends I hadn’t seen in nearly a month went to see “IT” while I sat on my couch and played “Trivial Pursuit” with my parents.

I knew I had to face my fear of loud, creepy bass lines and heart-stopping jump scares. I challenged myself to sit through one full movie – if I could do it once, I could do it again.

The first movie I saw was “Happy Death Day,” during which, I nearly fled the theater every time the murderer appeared on screen.

I, the girl who looks away when someone falls off their bike in a Youtube video, watched each of the 12 terribly unique and gruesome times the main character was murdered. Every time the music announcing another death came in, my heart pounded with the beat, and I buried deeper into my red-cushioned chair as I fought the urge to cover my eyes.

But still, I made it through the 96-minute film without audibly screaming or peeing my pants. I was thoroughly proud of myself, until I saw the film’s rating: PG-13. The scariest movies are always rated “R,” so was I cheating my way out of the challenge if I just watched a PG-13 film?

I typed “scariest movies on Netflix” into my Google search bar and found a movie that topped multiple “scary movie” lists: “It Follows.” And after watching it, I can see why.

I saw the movie on my phone screen in the privacy of my bedroom, with my head buried under my covers for most of the film. Twenty minutes in, I realized there was no way I’d make it through 87 more minutes if I was giving it my full attention. I opened Twitter to distract myself, but Richard Vreeland, the composer for the film, is way too good at his job. Even with my eyes nowhere near the screen, I was shaking and cowering at each BUM BUM BUM.

Right after I watched the movie, I felt perfectly safe and secure. The film completely slipped my mind for about 48 hours, but the fear hit me on the third night.

Of course, I was home alone taking a shower, which must be the time when everyone feels the most exposed. Convinced that a giant man was about to bust through my shower curtain and rip me apart, I darted to my room with conditioner still in my hair to call my mom. Now, every time I look out my bedroom window, which is on the first floor of my house, I wholeheartedly believe that I will see someone walking directly toward me with the intention to kill, just like in the movie.

After this experience, I never want to watch a horror film ever again. My mission to overcome my fear was a complete failure – so badly that I’m actually more afraid than I was before to watch anything remotely scary.

But I did gain one useful piece of information from my experience: it’s OK that I don’t like scary movies. I shouldn’t have to suffer through sleepless nights or feel my heart pounding so fast that it’s trying to break out of my shirt every time I’m walking alone in the dark just so I don’t miss out one night of “fun.” So next time you invite me to see a scary movie, I’m happy to drive you to the theater, and I’ll gladly grab some dinner with you afterward, but when it comes to watching, count me out.

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Alex Freeman

Alex Freeman is a junior at Shawnee Mission East and is a writer and the online news section editor for Harbinger. Outside of the publication, Alex is a part of Choraliers, Chamber Choir, and the Lyric Opera of Kansas City. This will be her second year on staff and she’s excited to grow as a writer and get to know new staff members. Read Full »

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