One of my favorite horror movies is Jeepers Creepers. Despite the questionable directorial career of Victor Salva, I thought he made a film–even almost 2 decades later!– has withstood the test of time.
In the film, a brother and sister casually and calmly drive on long country roads. Very soon to the movie, a truck seen in the distance suddenly becomes visible directly behind the siblings’ car. Frightened by the moment, they panic. They assume that truck just wants to get around them..they assume they are out of danger when the vehicle speeds off ahead. They become perplexed by the license plate BEATNGU…
From that point, despite the flashy creature feature plot line, the movie became less frightening for me. While still good, the really scary moments for my personal well being came in the form of mystery.. who was in the truck.. what was the driver’s goal. The unspoken fright is what worked best..
I believe it’s sign of adulthood–a coming of age time when your mind begins to shed itself of the scares over ghosts and goblins and replaces them with more earthly fears: Bills and poverty, nuclear war and, quite frankly, other people.
Some of the most effective horror movies of our time have utilized that deep fear over reality to their benefit. Films like SAW, where there’s no monster, but instead the culprit is the human psyche … newer films like GET OUT capitalize on racism and the underlining societal problems that so many in this world face.. The BELKO AEXPERIMENT takes our fear of being microchipped to a whole new level.
Two years ago, when I fear saw IT FOLLOWS I was struck by the visual more than the cerebral. For as creepy as the movie is, and as strange as the “IT” is in IT FOLLOWS, there are some more ghastly scenes that involve nothing more than actual images of Detroit, Michigan.
There is one particular scene where the group of young and unemployed kids decide to ride 8 mile to get to a destination.. effective loud and creepy music blares and the the viewer is hit with intense visual images of the city in ruins. Buildings falling down, old factories vacant … dilapidated structures, the likes of which only Seph Lawless can effectively capture through his photography work. That scene haunts me–maybe because on much smaller scale in the former amazing coal region of Pennsylvania, I see a similar landscape. One filled with drugs and an emergence of crime that likes of which my hometown and surrounding communities haven’t seen since coal baron days.
Reality is what is scary.
The TV series AMERICAN HORROR STORY uses those adulthood fears effectively as well. Look no further than the season called HOTEL, where we were gripped in the television version of the stench of blood, suicide, and murder. That season was based on the Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. The same famed hotel that featured night stalker murderers killing prostitutes, countless suicides that even included others below being killed by falling bodies, and the most recent freakish case of Elisa Lam.
She was the student who, somehow, was seen on an elevator that would not close, and then weeks later being found dead in the hotel water tank. She was decomposing in it. People in the hotel were showering and drinking the same water her body was submerged in until being found. While the case may be closed by police, it’s still widely talked about online and widely investigated by internet sleuths attempting to conjure up any possible reason or way that she was found in a location that the average 21-year-old student would never have been able to get to…
Hotels are scary places anyway. When you stay, you take a chance..you take a chance that the mattress you sleep on was not involved in a crime, rape, or murder.. you take a chance that the shower you clean yourself in didn’t also house a suicide victim at some point. Some hotels have these issues.. some hotels are littered with remains of blood and body parts. And yes, some hotels also have owners who use cameras to go rogue and voyeur on patrons.
Gas stations at 2am are scary places as well… everyone is on edge.
Convenient stores at closing time.
Your own bed at 3am when a nightmare suddenly awakens you for no reason.
Ghosts aren’t involved … goblins under the bed–while maybe still there–doesn’t bother you much … And Slenderman isn’t, at least not until a pre-teen envisions him and uses his image to try killing a friend. Reality, my friends, is what becomes scary.
As I write this post, North Korea is in the news again … they just fired off more missiles. While the ‘fake or real’ news reports that it was a failure, it continues the notion that we are heading towards some form of military conflict… a conflict that we don’t want or need.. a conflict that seems inevitable.. Some people are scared of Donald Trump more than North Korea. As adults, we all have a crutch, don’t we?
Our albatrosses are shaped by life experiences. They are shaped by our background…they are mixed with the real life events that occur. Someone I know recently lost his father and his wife at the same time is losing her father. A double whammy of death–the angel of reality comeths and takeths away. Not on your term.. but his..
Yes, you write you own book. But sometimes you’re just filling up chapters and pages while the conclusion is being penned by someone else.
The haunting images in your mind… the scary pictures that you see when you think of horror….. they aren’t Freddy and Jason, Michael Myers are Chuckie. At least not when you reach adulthood.
No, instead…they are the headlights behind you on a dark and windy road… It is the one lone light that shines in dark building…or the silhouette under a street light after dark.
They are the things that become scary over time. So much so that you long for the less mature days of sleeplessness because of the closet being slightly ajar or the hand you feel is ready to grab your feet at night if they aren’t covered.
Those were the days.