The first Conjuring movie came out in 2013, when I had just turned twelve. I was only vaguely aware of the trailer snippets that flashed across the TV screen during commercial breaks. I paid minimal attention to the media buzz about the “horrifying true story” until I literally tripped over the DVD while walking into the kitchen and stubbed my toe on a chair, prompting my mother’s cheerful announcement that the movie viewing would be a family event.
Anxiety swelled inside my chest. The only scary movie I had ever watched was the comedy Hocus Pocus, which scarred me so deeply at the age of six that I cowered at the sight of our vacuum cleaner, which resembled the vacuum that one of the witches comedically used instead of a broom. (I’m still afraid of vacuum cleaners, but now it’s because I hate cleaning my room). The Conjuring, I knew, was bound to be ten times scarier than a kids’ Halloween classic, and the fearful anticipation of family movie night only intensified as Saturday encroached upon me. When the night finally came, I surrounded myself with three monstrous pillows (I was “cold”) with which to hide my shaking, which endured throughout the entirety of the movie. It turned out to be slightly less terrifying than I expected, but regardless, relief cascaded through my veins while the credits rolled. I felt overwhelmingly proud of myself but ultimately decided that would be the last horror movie for me- until the Blob showed up on the kitchen floor a month later.
Despite all my mother’s promises about the hilariously ridiculous special effects and pitiful plot, the Blob succeeded in terrifying me and my brother. The 1958 classic, however, turned out to be just the incentive I needed to confront my fear of horror movies. I resolved to watch as many horror movies as necessary until I no longer flinched at a single jump scare. I wanted to listen to music without considering that doing so could prevent me from hearing a serial killer break into my house. I wanted to dangle my foot over the end of the bed without fearing something would rip off my toes. It was time to start living.
The flurry of movies I watched over the next few months did just what I wanted. I was quickly rendered immune to all types of jump scares, gruesome demons, and heart-wrenching backstories. Long after I had accomplished my goal, however, I still returned home every Friday with a library bag bursting with horror movies.
Horror movies are all quite similar in that they focus on inducing one emotion in the viewer: fear. Most, even the best ones, are all short, sweet, and fairly simple. Some of them are so stupid and predictable that they are hilariously funny, while a rare few prove themselves to be terrifying masterpieces of cinematography. Mostly, however, I enjoy analyzing them and trying to figure out what makes a horror movie truly scary. To me, horror movies are like candy.