Monday, October 31, 2011

"Anxious Movies" Just Doesn't Have the Same Ring

My wife has Halloween fever and has repeatedly expressed her interest in going to see Paranormal Activity 3 to me.  My response to her has been that she should see the first two movies, which are available at no cost on Netflix prior to viewing the third installment of the series.

Notice I said she should see the first two movies.  I don't know if you noticed that was my pronoun of choice, but my wife certainly didn't.

So, here I am posting at nearly three o'clock in the morning because my wife and I just finished watching the original Paranormal Activity, which, now that it's over, I have to say was a pretty big disappointment. Other than three legitimately creepy scenes, the rest of the movie was mostly suggestive film tactics meant to get you all anxious just to leave you without a scare.  It was an almost mirror image of The Blair Witch Project in that it provided no visual of the scary entity in question, had low production value and starred people whose demise I eventually began to hope for by the end.

These kinds of films, the kind that exist only to provide cheap, jump out of your seat moments, bother me.  I'm all for a good, scary, creepy horror film, but most horror movies are all tension and no substance.  You get yourself all tensed up and ready for a sudden event to take place and something anticlimactic happens instead.  Then, in an attempt to perhaps justify the money you spent on the movie, you end up saying things to your friends afterwards like...

"Oh man, that so freaked me out how she was just standing next to the bed for like two hours staring at him," or...

"When the chandelier was swaying, I almost couldn't watch," or...

"Did you see the sheets move by themselves.  That, my friends, is terror incarnate."

These are all things that, if you taped your conversations regularly, you would, after reviewing said tapes, want to punch your past self in the face for saying out loud.

Basically, you convince yourself that the movie made you more frightened than it did.  What it really did was cause you a great deal of anxiety by taking an overly extended amount of time to deliver the cheap thrills you expected.  If you counted the times you witnessed something actually scary on screen, you would be hard pressed to need a second hand.

I, for one, know my limitations.  I don't enjoy being anxious.  Thus, I don't watch scary movies without a decent story who only seek to make me feel so.  I liken these films to waiting to hear a verdict read against you in criminal court or the brief moment after the doctor says, "I have some very grave news for you," as he looks down at your test results.  I don't think anyone has ever really enjoyed such moments, as they really shouldn't.

But, thanks to my wife (love you, honey), I am now wide awake.  Not because I think somebody is waiting just outside my bedroom door with a sharp cutting instrument, not because I keep thinking I hear scratching noises from under our bed and not because I swear I can feel a nearby demonic presence.  No, I could stride confidently through my darkened house right now and retrieve an item from the darkest recesses of my basement without thinking twice about some monster leaping out to devour me.

I am awake now because I am simply agitated and feeling the physiological effects of prolonged tension.  So, I figured I might as well turn it into a post reflecting upon scary movies and their...

Shhh!  Did you hear that?  Oh, God, it sounds like it's in the hallway.  I'm getting under the covers.

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