Monday, November 09, 2009

When Things Go Bump in the Night...

I'm not sure why, but lately I've been showing a soft-spot for scary movies.

I really don't get it. But I guess my desire to curl up on the couch with popcorn and repeatedly jump and gasp while being terrorized by on-screen horror was brought on by Halloween in the past few weeks.

I was a big horror flick fan in high school. Of course, it was a great time to discover an affection for scary movies. The mid-to-late '90's saw the release of a huge crop of teen slasher flicks, starting with Scream. It seemed like every weekend, we were gathering at somebody's house to watch the latest scary movie to hit the video stores - I Know What You Did Last Summer, Idle Hands, The Blair Witch Project, Final Destination, Halloween: H20, and so on.

I saw them all. And for the most part, hanging out with friends and screaming and laughing was a total blast.

But it was in college, I believe, that we went to the theatre to see the re-make of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I spent the entire time hiding behind my coat, and beside me, Sara was doing the same. We ended up looking at each other from behind our coats more than we actually watched the big screen. It felt like the longest two hours of my life - it felt like it was never going to end. When it was finally over, I remember thinking I spent $10 to hide behind my jacket, and what a flippin' waste of money that was.

(When it was released on DVD, we did the same thing all over again in my parents' basement with Erin - she watched, while Sara and I hid behind pillows.)

And that seemed to be where my love for scary movies ended. Oh, I've seen a few of them over the years - The Exorcism of Emily Rose, for example, but because it was based on a true story and included a courtroom drama, I didn't quite classify it as "horror". And then there was my attempt at watching the re-make of The Hills Have Eyes. I don't know if I made it through half an hour of it. It just re-affirmed my loathing of scary movies.

The Saw movies? Hostel? Not a chance in hell.

But I re-visited those fun high school days of watching scary flicks be buying and watching all three Scream movies leading up to Halloween, just to get me in the mood - and maybe they seemed more tolerable because I had already seen them all in my teen years, and sort of knew what to expect.

But that was it - I was done with them again after that!

Until...Sarah told us last week a friend from work had downloaded and made a copy of Paranormal Activity, the latest horror flick to hit theatres. Audiences have raved that it's one of the scariest movies ever, and apparently people have been getting up and leaving in the middle of it because it's that terrifying.

And Sarah wanted to know if we'd watch it with her.

I was intrigued. The scariest movie ever? What would it be like? Would I survive it? If I couldn't survive The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, how would I ever survive this? But I was curious, so along with Sue and Brenda, I agreed to watch it.

The low-budget flick introduces us to two main characters, Katie and Micah, a young couple living in a suburban tract house. Katie claims to have had paranormal experiences off-and-on since she was a child, and the entity that haunts her has now followed her to this house, and it is growing more hostile. Micah has bought a camera to set up in their room to try and capture some of this paranormal activity while they are sleeping.

Over the course of several weeks, he catches increasingly-frightening activity each night. Loud thuds and footsteps. Doors slamming. Grunts and whispers. Katie climbing out of bed and standing, staring at him, for hours at a time, without barely moving.

Stuff like that.

Okay, so it was a little freaky.

But the scariest movie everrrrrrrrr? Not quite. Not in my books, anyways. For one thing, I found it rather reminiscent of The Blair Witch, which I also was not overly-impressed by. Hours of documentary-style footage, shaky hand-held filming, odd angles, etc. - which can kind of drag on and get boring after awhile - and then builds us up to an ending that happens so quickly, it's like, "Huh?" (Now, to be fair, the version of the film we saw was not the one with the ending being seen currently in theatres. And from what I've read, the other ending is a little more creepy...) Also, the few other characters in the movie - Katie's friend, and the psychic who visits their home - were absolutely horrible actors.

That being said, there were a few good things to talk about. For one thing, Katie and Micah were entirely believable in their roles as a young couple being terrorized and torn apart by a demon haunting them. Micah was also good for a few laughs. When Katie screamed and he jumped, but then went back for the camera, only to discover her frightened by a giant spider in their bathroom - it was pretty comical, especially when she cries, "Did you go back for the camera?!" Another time, while trying to communicate with the spirit, Micah asks, "What is your quest?...What is your favourite colour?"

(There was debate amongst us afterwards on what kind of guy Micah was - in my opinion, he seemed like a typical guy who discovers his girlfriend is being terrorized by a demon - at first, laughs it off, then tries to have fun with it with all his gadgets and ghost hunting, and eventually gets possessive and macho and down-right pissed when he realizes he actually is dealing with something out of his league and pretty frightening. I thought it was kinda sweet how he tried to protect her. Brenda, on the other hand, thought he was a complete asshole.)

To be honest - the night clips of their bedroom and the scary shit going down...well, yeah, it was pretty creepy. But I really have no idea why people would get up and leave this one in the middle of it. I never even had to hide my eyes.
I realize that a scary movie doesn't necessarily need guts and gore to make it scary; that this one hits more on a psychological level. What do you do when things are going bump in the night? What do you do when it always happens when you're asleep and you're at your most vulnerable? What do you do when it's a volatile demon taking pleasure in terrorizing you? What do you do when you can't make it go away?

I guess that's the reason why this one is making waves and getting people excited about horror flicks again.

And despite the fact that I think I've seen scarier - I guess that's also why I went to sleep that night with the lights on...


Sharon said...

I also hid my eyes for most of the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake, we watched it last Halloween at my house. I recall Dana jumping out of fright and spilling beer on both me, her and my couch.

I also paid to hide behind my scarf throughout the first SAW movie. Wayne loves them and I told him those psychotic movies will never come through my door.

Jill said...

lol I don't blame you Sharon! I don't know why we subject ourselves to it! They bother me too much... I'm now sleeping with the lights off in my room again, but I'm still leaving the hall light on at night. Soooo not a fan of the dark...