This one seems to happen far too often. You get yourself super pumped for the ~next big horror movie~ after seeing its awesome-looking trailer only to find out, oops, that trailer had all the best parts and in context they weren’t even that scary at all. Oh dang.
Then again there are times that the horror movie you’ve selected actually IS as scary as advertised — or perhaps even far scarier — and your survival instincts kick in. Fight or flight? The monster’s coming! (Obviously neither because you’d never leave a horror movie early and you’d look pretty goofy punching the screen, so just grip your armrests instead.)
In those moments of terror are sometimes genuine panic. If the film has managed to disorient you or absorb you enough you may find yourself just as nervous as the characters onscreen. These are usually the moments you want to yell advice to them — mainly because if they would just LISTEN you could both feel safe again!
Ever seen a movie and thought, “Wow, how did they even come up with this?” Sometimes it’s fun to contemplate the true darkness that lurks within a horror movie and the fact that these twisted ideas make it out of people’s brains and into our own.
I’m most impressed by films that can make me feel uneasy. Not necessarily scared, not necessarily upset, but just… off. What’s coming? Something must be coming. Why is this character acting this way? Why do we keep panning to this object? Why did the music change? WHAT IS HAPPENING?
Unease, if pulled off correctly, eventually leads to dread. Because while unease is the feeling of being unsure or off-kilter, dread is the feeling of KNOWING something bad is about to happen. Knowing this and being helpless to stop the oncoming horror is a very special kind of cinema feel.
In a particularly well-done horror movie you actually connect with the characters rather than sigh in gratitude when they meet their bloody ends. Sometimes you find yourself really rooting for someone only to be devastated when they eat the big one… even though you know in your heart that hey, this is a horror movie — most people aren’t gonna make it, champ.
Then comes the part where you turn the movie off or leave the theater and wouldn’t you know, all those feelings are creeping behind you, following you into bed late at night. The epitome of a truly wonderful scary movie is one that stays with you, burrows deep into your head and refuses to leave. A good horror film scares you in the moment. A great horror film scares you for the rest of your life.