I’ve never needed to see a scary movie to know that I hate them. I’ve always disliked being scared at all. I once, when I was 10, let my older sister drive us 20 minutes to a haunted house, only to make her turn back. Another time, I pelted my neighbor with candy on Halloween because he jumped out of a bush to scare us — I was 7. When I was 13, and finally able to get into a PG-13 movie, one of my best friends decided that we were going to go see the 2006 remake of When a Stranger Calls. I dreaded every single moment leading up to it and hated every single moment while watching it.
To put it lightly, the movie traumatized me. It wasn’t even all that gory or traditionally scary, but every time I got a babysitting gig, I would be paralyzed by an overwhelming fear that I would receive a call from a murderer that was coming from inside the house. When a Stranger Calls became my first and last scary movie — until now.
In the year of our Lord 2019, I was brainstorming ideas for Halloween and it hit me: Now is the time to watch all of the scary movies people have referenced through the years — for the sake of content. I often do these types of things to myself; give myself a weird self-dare to see how funny something will be. In other words: I was going to torture myself now and hopefully laugh later. How hard could it be?
As it turns out: really hard. I didn’t anticipate how much anxiety and adrenaline would be coursing through my veins for a week straight. I would finish a movie, only to be kept up until 2 o’clock in the morning, not because I was having nightmares, but because my body could not and would not physically relax.
I also documented my experience on my Instagram Stories, if you are so inclined to watch me slowly lose my mind through the lens of my poor roommate, who I made sleep with his door open for the entire week. I will admit, it wasn’t all bad. Sure, it was mostly bad, but it wasn’t all bad. I did learn a few things from these movies. (Warning: Spoilers ahead.)
Friday the 13th
My first movie was Friday the 13th. I chose it first because the only thing I knew about it was that it took place at camp and I figured, Well, I’m not going to camp anytime soon am I? This can’t possibly be that scary.
But friends, it was scary. In fact, the end caught me so off guard, that I made my roommate sleep with his door open to protect me from Jason (who I kept calling Jared). Here’s what I learned:
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Up next was the 1997 classic, I Know What You Did Last Summer. Overall, this movie had enough campy moments in it (Jennifer Love Hewitt screaming “WHAT’RE YOU WAITING FOR?” was so perfect) that I wasn’t entirely miserable watching it. It also had some amazing fashion moments.
Overall, the scariest part of the entire film was that these teenagers were so uncomfortable with the idea of maybe getting into trouble that they were fully willing to commit murder to save their own asses.
Halloween was equal parts horrifying and confusing to me. I was constantly asking my roommate why Michael Myers was doing what he was doing. I hated that there wasn’t some obscure moral code that he was following that would make me feel better when I was finished. For the last two films, I had been able to convince myself that I was safe because I wasn’t at camp or an attempted murderer.
I thought that maybe he was functioning off of the ol’ “have sex and die” rule, but it got muddled when he went after our girl Jamie Lee Curtis, who did nothing wrong! For that reason, I once again forced my roommate to sleep with his door open.
The music was the real star of the show here, and I loved that I could tell when something bad was going to happen because of it.
Nightmare on Elm Street
I hated every single second of this movie. Well, not every second. There was one blissful minute where a young Johnny Depp wears a crop top, but everything else was pure torture. The premise of the entire movie is that a child killer just has free reign over people’s dreams and it is … the worst.
I will also add that I watched this movie — which was arguably the most disturbing and gory of the bunch — while I was wildly hungover. We’re friends here, so I’ll admit it. My roommate insisted that we watch it during the day so as not to traumatize me further, which meant we woke up, rolled ourselves to the living room and got to it. 10/10 do not suggest watching when you feel like you could die at any moment anyway.
Everyone told me that SCREAM was the perfect movie to end on because it’s allegedly a satire, and since I had forced my way through four other movies, I would have a greater understanding of the tropes that the horror genre tends to follow.
“It’s kind of funny,” one of my friends said. “Oh, you’ll really like it,” said another. Liars. All of them were liars. This movie had more jump-scares than any other on this list, sending me into a tailspin that had me begging my roommate to let me stop.
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