By Shannon Iwanski
I have a shocking confession to make: I don’t like horror movies. At this point, I’m assuming you’ve either picked yourself up from the floor, or else the confession isn’t really that shocking. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve seen plenty of horror movies. I just don’t go out of my way to watch them because I can’t shut off my overactive imagination. Whether it’s mirrors, the dark, looking through windows into the dark, open closet doors, or the thought of a monster ready to grab me by the ankles and drag me under the bed, seeing these things on the big screen only reinforces the real-life fears I have.
So, now that you know what you’re dealing with, I thought I would further humiliate myself and tell you about my top five embarrassing reactions to some horror movies I’ve seen.
5. The Shining (1980): I can’t remember how old I was when I first accidentally saw this movie on television. My parents tried to keep me out of the room, but you know how it is when you try to get a child to not do something. On one of the occasions I managed to sneak into the room, I saw Danny opening a door and seeing a room filled with cobweb covered skeletons. That was enough to fuel nightmares for weeks. Now, in my defense, I was probably seven and didn’t spend much time watching scary things. I mean, Jaws terrified the hell out of me, but it also triggered a fascination with sharks. A kid finding a room full of decomposed bodies was more than I could bear.
4. Mama (2013): I like Guillermo del Toro. Pan’s Labyrinth was an amazing masterpiece that I enjoyed. There were a few things, like the food monster and the guy getting his face sliced open, that were mildly uncomfortable, but overall I loved it. Now, I knew ahead of time that Mama was a darker movie with more horror elements. I was all set to let friends go see it without me. Enjoy. Have fun. See ya later. But, no. I had to heed the immortal words “I don’t think it’ll be that scary.” Yeah, if Adrean Messmer ever tells you that, run. She’s a liar! (Love you, Adrean.) For the most part the movie was okay, but I spent several scenes looking away from the screen or pulling my knees to my chest. I did get a very heartfelt “I’m so sorry” at one point, so I guess that’s nice.
3. Paranormal Activity (2007): This is another movie I was talked into seeing. Thankfully that’s a pattern I’ve broken after number two below. This movie, for me and most people, is truly frightening because it lets your brain fill in so much with so little. I can’t remember any jump scares, but I do remember kicking the hell out of the theater seat in front of me. Luckily, no one was occupying it at the time. I also got somewhat acquainted with the woman in the chair next to mine because we both spent most of the movie saying “Oh, God.” My best friend, who talked me into seeing the movie, spent most of it laughing at me.
2. The Woman in Black (2012): This was the last time I agreed to go see a horror movie with my husband. As I mentioned above, looking through windows into darkness is one of the things that triggers my fear. At one point in this movie, Daniel Radcliffe’s character is walking toward a window. At the last moment, the ghost appears outside, and there’s the obligatory jump scare noise. My response was typical: I screamed. Unfortunately, by the time we went to see the movie with friends, there were only six people in the theater. So, yes, I screamed. Like a crazy person. In a large room. Filled with six people. Awesome.
1. Hellraiser (1987): I was 13 the first and only time I saw this movie. What possessed me to ask my parents to let me stay up late watching this gory romp is beyond me. All I know is they agreed, and I stayed up until the wee hours of the night watching it with my dad. About two seconds after going to bed, I knew I wasn’t going to make it. Even with a nightlight—it was for my youngest brother, I swear—that bedroom became a deathtrap. I waited for hooks and chains to shoot out of the walls even though I hadn't tempted fate by manipulating a puzzle box. I don’t know how long I lay there, but when I finally found the courage to run through the house to my parents’ bedroom, it was the most harrowing experience of my life. And so, I spent the night sleeping in my parents’ bed. At 13. Yeah, not my finest moment.