A Healthy Dose of Fear

Avid fans of the scary movie genre, I salute you. I have watched two scary movies in my entire life: Chucky and The Blair Witch Project. While I’m told that these aren’t the best examples of heart-rate elevating frightful goodness, somehow I feel like my life is worth living anyway. I admit, I thought parts of Chucky were funny. But parts weren’t. I figure that the Chucky series tapped into that part of my childhood psyche that imagines dolls and playthings are real. Or possessed. Kind of like Raggedy Ann and Andy, or Toy Story run amok.

It took me a couple weeks to get over the Blair Witch Project. I am not cinematographically awesome enough to engage in some debate over whether the movie was as horrible as some people claimed or as inspired as others thought. All I do know is that, in the aftermath of the movie, I was a little jittery, a little on-edge. I suppose it’s because I have often been startled while out camping by strange sounds and unknown critters that go bump in the night. Or maybe I’m overthinking this whole scary movie thing and I just need to pop some popcorn and hunker down for a spookily good time.

I get it that suspension of disbelief is essential in bonding with our imaginary-onscreen or in-book characters. We identify with a character or situation and, through them, rise above whatever the antagonist tosses at us, and emerge victorious, or die trying. Or undie trying, if what we’re identifying with is outliving zombie critters. It’s complicated.

I understand that people who like scary movies also like the adrenaline rush that extreme sports like mountain climbing or skydiving provide. There’s a psychological intensification that movies, scary movies in particular, create. I guess that this is just another example of brain wiring being different in people. Some people crave the rush; others don’t like it.

I’m not averse to the ideas that scary movies project all in my face, I just deal with them in other ways. I’ve read most of the Stephen King and Dean Koontz oeuvre, and I’m a mom, so the notion of being afraid doesn’t bother me. I understand that facing fears is essential to psychosocial development. Doing the thing that scares me, facing my fears so that I can overcome them, blahblahblah. I guess I’d rather my fear be real, or imagined in my own way so that I can control it. I can’t control how a movie is presented to me, therefor I stay away from the scary ones. I guess I like to choose the things that make my heart thump.

While I’ve been typing this, a slew of trick-or-treaters has been ringing the doorbell. Princesses and Swamp Things, zombies and silver plated droids have all been stopping by to say hello and get a couple goodies from me. We play with the idea that our imaginations aren’t imaginary every so often, and then we get to put them away for another year. Me, I’m dressed up as Jack Skelton because I love a tight, form fitting jacket and pipestem pants. I’ll let other people tap into their inner Freddie whatnot.


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