It’s almost Halloween, and that means that a lot of people are going to start watching scary movies. To save you from ruining the movie experience for you, I threw together a list of four rules I have for watching a scary movie. These will definitely help you get the mood right and avoid screwing yourself over when it comes time to creep yourself out.
Do not go to the theater
The theater experience is horrible for scary movies. Nothing is going to ruin the feeling of fear more than being in a room with 100 other people, especially when some of them start talking, laughing, getting up to go take a shit, and doing a variety of other distracting things.
I’m a big fan of the Paranormal Activity series (which is pretty obvious), and I’m very much looking forward to part 4. Those movies do scary the way it should be done if you really want to affect the viewer. They creep you out rather than shock you with a quick sound effect and scary monster jumping into the scene (this is something the Pang Brothers do very well). Despite my love for the series though, I won’t go see it in theaters.
A problem with watching a scary movie in the theater is the fact that you’re watching it on a 100ft wide screen. Your eyes have a lot more to track. That added to the part about the audience means I’m going to get a much lesser experience out of the film.
Watch the movie alone, preferably at night in the dark
The best way to watch a scary movie is alone, or at least with as few people as possible. Make sure you duct tape their mouths shut as well, because talking will ruin it. In the best scary movies, atmosphere is key. Silence can be much scarier than anything else because nothing is happening, and you know something will.
Turn the lights off and shut yourself in with the TV. Watch whatever scary movie you want, but do it alone. The effect is much better because you know that if what you’re watching was really there, you have no one around to save you.
Watch it as close to the screen as possible
The first time my wife and I watched Shutter (not the shitty ass American remake), it scared the holy hell out of us. The reason wasn’t just because the movie is so good at being highly creepy, but because we were only a couple feet away from the screen. We were laying in bed, watching the DVD through my computer monitor which was literally three feet away. When something happened, it happened right in our face. That can have a big effect on the viewer.
Suspend your disbelief
Really, if you’re thinking to yourself that this cannot happen, that it’s all complete crap, then don’t even bother watching the movie. What the fuck is the point? You can’t expect a movie to freak you out if you’re constantly trying to have a problem with it.
I’ve seen many reviews of various scary movies where people talk about how the movie wasn’t scary, how it was boring and sucked. If you watch a movie and think too much about the plot, trying to figure out the latest twist or turn, you’re not going to get the experience. Instead, you’ll miss every moment that was intended to affect you and walk out thinking the movie failed. The problem is that you didn’t let it do it’s job because you were too busy trying to debunk it and find problems. You essentially fucked yourself over.
What Scares You?
Before you even try to get scared by a movie, you need to figure out what scares you. The reason why certain movies are considered “scary” movies is because they induce fear in people who believe or at least can conceive of the story happening.
People who are afraid of ghosts are going to shit themselves watching Paranormal Activity, The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, or damn near any Asian ghost story. For those afraid of a maniac without remorse sneaking into their house, slasher films and home invasion movies will likely keep them up at night. Those with a fear of supernatural forces aren’t going to sit well after watching The Fourth Kind.
It all depends on what you are afraid of. If you don’t chose the right scary movie genre, you won’t find a scary movie. You’ll just find a movie with a few jump scenes that leaves you completely unaffected.