Okay, so my sister called me out for watching a horror film last night. Okay, maybe two. Okay…I watched Screams 2 through 4 last night and literally loved every second. What can I say? I was hooked, but not for the reasons you might think. Believe me or not, I don’t actually enjoy throwing myself behind couches to hide from jump scares or tossing remotes across the room because of loud noises (though I am sure I am a treat to watch if you catch me committed to the film like that). I really don’t watch them for any of the traditional reasons. No, the reason I find horror films entertaining is a healthy combination of overacting and underdeveloped logic.
The beauty of horror films is the variety of ways they can be perceived. For me, and I’ll try not to come off as too creepy, they are surprisingly humorous. It’s not seeing people get hurt or killed. Actually, that kind of torture doesn’t sit well with me at all (I am far too sympathetic to cope with the sounds and sights associated with people being in pain. I probably hurt more watching than the actors did performing.). The real humor is in characters’ trains of thought. Sure, they can’t hear me, but that won’t stop me from saying, “You know what sounds like a good idea? Running past the door that leads to a car you could easily get away in and hiding in a closet instead. Clearly that’s the best way to avoid the slow moving people in masks.” It’s that kind of quality logic that I love. Characters tend to make these kinds of choices from beginning to end, but some will still survive to see the light of day. While this may sound frustrating, I get a good laugh out of it, especially when I am in the company of others who can appreciate it.
Adding to that fabulous movie logic, horror films teach a lot about survival. For example, I now know that if a homicidal maniac is terrorizing my town, I should avoid all late night parties and bonfires, not answer the phone or the doors, consider owning my own weapon because authority will never get there in time, be stupidly beautiful at best and never, under any circumstances have sex. The people who have sex always have to die. These and other certain formulaic plot points are quintessential to the horror film genre Predictable though they may be, they still provide some satisfaction because honestly, what would we do if the woman getting in the shower didn’t get slaughtered?
And you know the acting in those scenes is phenomenal. Now, don’t get me wrong, acting terrified is not an easy thing. I know this because it gets done so horribly more often than not. From the running to the fighting to the dying, actors and actresses in horror films seem to think they are getting paid by the volume of their voices and that the big money lies at the two extremes. Delivering a questionable line with questionable logic is one thing, but doing so in that just right, unnatural way always puts a smile on my face. If you have seen “The Strangers” and know the answer to the question “Why are you doing this?” then you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Despite what probably seems like a lot of criticism, I really do love horror films. They allow for quality witty banter in the right company and still manage to scare the daylights out of me. I may respond to this terror (and this writing style) with sarcasm and side commentary, but hey, I think it keeps the classics interesting. So, tell me, what’s your favorite scary movie?