Scary movies are not my thing. I regularly shrug off invitations to Saw 10 and Paranormal Activity: 3D because I already know how those kinds of movies end: with me frantically feeling the wall for a light switch every time I enter a dark room, suffering from small heart attacks at even the tiniest sounds, and eventually having to counter all scary thoughts by going to bed with the lights on and an episode of Spongebob Squarepants playing. Ghosts hate Spongebob. That’s a fact.
My adverse reactions to scary movies started at a young age. I was so affected by the evil queen in Snow White that I begged my mom to hide the VHS box because her face was on the front of it. A Halloween viewing of the cartoon Scooby Doo on Zombie Island – the one where the monsters are real – lead to three nights of sleeping at the foot of my parents’ bed like a cat. In seventh grade, my friends invited me to see a “murder mystery” movie called The Ring and to this day, the sound of television static terrifies me.
“You’re sensitive,” my mom told me, as I lugged my pillow onto the end of her bed once again, angrily crying that I was such a wimp. “You don’t have to watch scary movies if they make you feel bad. Life is scary enough.”
Why are moms always right? Life is scary. There are so many fears I would rather face than ones involving fictional exorcisms and hauntings and possessed dolls (those were for sure fictional, right?). Before performing in front of a crowd, my stress rate is the exact same as after that time I got stuck watching The Conjuring on an airplane, but the high blood pressure is totally worth singing for an audience. Surviving two hours of a movie? Meh. Not so much. Overcoming stage fright feels infinitely more victorious than finally allowing myself to stop holding my breath as soon as a film’s end credits start rolling.
People never want to believe that I don’t want to watch scary movies. They say things like, “You just haven’t seen the right one,” and, “It’s just a movie, it’s not real.” Duh. I know it’s a movie! I know it’s not real! But that doesn’t change the fact that (yes, Mom) I’m sensitive, and movies (books, people, too) really affect me. I can be brave. For someone who so regularly slept in fetal position at my mom’s feet, I can be pretty darn strong, too. But I’d rather use my strength and my bravery for real-life situations.
Besides, why do you care if I watch Insidious with you this weekend? It’s just a movie.