Let me rephrase that. I am a huge wimp when it comes to all things scary. Growing up, this was especially true of horror movies. This phobia was particularly difficult seeing as I came of age in the 80s, the decade that birthed the modern horror flick. My friends saw just about every one. So naturally, despite me never having seen any of them, I knew all of the grizzly details.
I was 10 years old when I saw Poltergeist on cable. Even though I knew in advance nearly every scare, and even though it was a sunny Saturday morning when it was on, that movie had a profound effect on me. I tied a rope around the doorknobs of my closet for over a year after.
During horror movie nights at summer camp, I would be forced to spend the evening hanging out with the kids who were “docked”—a suspension of sorts for campers who had gotten in trouble that day and were not allowed to participate in that evening’s activity. When my bunkmates returned I was subjected to mockery while they spent the rest of the evening talking about all the gruesome scenes they had earlier witnessed in The Thing or Creepshow.
Only a handful of my closest friends knew of my fears and I tried very hard to keep it that way. This was not always easy to do. One weekend night in junior high there was a screening of Aliens at the house of a girl I kind of liked. As we gathered around the TV, I purposely positioned myself in a corner that had an obstructed view of the screen. I sat there trying not to listen and wishing for time to accelerate when somebody popped up behind the couch and screamed “boo.” Weather or not, this was actually intended for me will forever remain a mystery. Instinct took over and before I knew it I had leapt over the couch. My next memory is that the lights were turned on and I was sitting on top a guy whose head I had pushed through the drywall. To call the aftermath mortifying is an injustice to that word.
Now that I’m an adult, and a movie geek, I’ve shed a lot of my fears about horror movies. I’ve seen a handful of them and for the most part, have emerged unscathed. I can openly and honestly admit my wimpish tendencies.
There is a movie out right now called Paranormal Activity. Over the past few weeks, it has been shown to sold out audiences at midnight screenings. It is fast becoming a phenomenon, similar to The Blair Witch Project of a decade ago. I don’t usually listen to platitudes, but Paranormal Activity is being called one of the scariest movies ever. Like Poltergeist, it takes place in a regular suburban home. I have heard it’s the kind of flick that creeps the skin and haunts you long after you’ve left the theater.
As a fanboy, I am compelled to see it. But as a wimp, I’m afraid. Most of the time, I go to movies by myself. Nearly all of the time, I see them at night. After the movie is over, I would have to walk alone through a subterranean parking garage to my car and arrive at a darkened house where everyone is sleeping.
I am not the type to miss out on a pop culture phenomenon, but in this case I’m afraid that I may have to make an exception.