I love a good horror movie like I love a good slice of chocolate cake. But I’m also a complete sissy. Whenever I read a Stephen King book, I need not just my bedroom light on, but kitchen, bathroom, and closet light on as well. Since it’s not acceptable to ask for movie theaters to turn on the lights during the scary parts, I had to come up with other ways to cope. Such as:
3. Start Predicting Stuff
A scare tactic movie makers use is the startle factor. Whether it’s a warm-up false alarm where someone gets freaked out by a shadow or the appearance of an enormous, saliva-dripping monster, what counts is that the audience jumps and screams right along with the characters. This is why I never let my friend hold the popcorn — she always jumps and spills it everywhere, and I almost never do. Not because I’m braver than her, but because I’m waiting and ready for that key jump moment.
Listen for Pauses
The trick is to listen for pauses. Horror movies are usually non-stop noise of some sort — screams, grunts, eerie music, crashes, supernatural sounds — something. Then there are scenes that are done in almost complete silence, and these are the ones you need to watch out for. Because you just know the producer’s going to break that silence in some popcorn-spillingly horrifying manner. It’s these scenes where I know to sit up straight and take a firm hold on my drink — and usually just this knowledge that I’m going to be startled by something makes whatever it is not so bad.
Try to Predict Deaths
Another silly thing to predict in horror movies is who’s going to die, and when (if you’re particularly sadistic, you might want to add “and how” to this prediction). Every time a new character gets introduced, I wonder how long he or she will last. Then when it starts to get scary and someone dies, I either think, “Called it!” or “Wow, got that one wrong.” It sounds silly, but it’s a way to distance myself from what’s going on in the movie.
2. 6 Degrees of Separation
Whenever I’m watching a movie exchange that’s getting to be too much for me, I imagine the character as another character the actor’s played before. For instance, I’ve seen The Shining a million times and it still freaks me out. Jack Nicholson is brilliant and terrifying. I was so relived when The Bucket List came out — providing one of Nicholson’s few roles where he’s not acting disturbed or scary. Now during the hedge-maze chase scene, instead of seeing Shining character Jack Torrance chase his son through the maze with a chainsaw, I imagine Nicholson’s character, Edward, from The Bucket List. Imagining eccentric but harmless billionaire Edward Cole run through the snow with a chainsaw takes the edge off — not enough to ruin the moment entirely, but enough to keep me in my seat.
1. Cover Your Ears Not Your Eyes
Most people think the answer to seeing something a little too scary or graphic is to cover their eyes. However, this just makes it worse — your mind fills in the visuals to go with the gory sounds you’re hearing and usually comes up with something worse than what’s actually happening. But it doesn’t do that with sounds. As I mentioned in my first point, scary movies rely heavily on sound. The Shining wouldn’t be nearly as terrifying without its eerie, high-pitched background music. Saw (and its many sequels) wouldn’t be nearly as gross without sound effects. Sound adds a lot to the overall experience. So next time you’re home alone watching the late-night horror flick and are starting to think there’s no way you’ll fall asleep ever again, just mute the TV — It doesn’t take away from the plot of the movie but definitely takes off the creepiness factor.
It’s no fun not seeing the latest hit movie or having to sheepishly admit to friends that you can’t hang out tonight because you don’t do scary movies. With these three strategies, even the wimpiest of moviegoers should be able to enjoy the worst horror movies — and still be able to sleep without a nightlight.