Scared of the screen

Jordan PuyearBy Jordan Puyear|

It was 7:45 at night, and other than the light from the movie screen, the room was pitch black. The classroom was filled with other students, and it was there that I almost started crying with The Exorcist playing in front of me.

To most of the students in the class, the film sparked a laugh, not scaring a bone in their body. But to me, my body was in a knot trying not to stare at the demon child on the screen. Little did I know when I signed up that this is what my Film and Genre class would consist of.

Personally, I get very scared very easily. Heck, even Voldemort from Harry Potter gave me nightmares, let alone images of Freddy Krueger haunting my dreams. It was during the very first day of my Film and Genre class that my professor revealed that this course would only focus on one genre: horror. My professor asked the class who enjoyed horror films, and most of the students raised their hands.

When he saw my worried expression, I revealed to him that I have never seen a horror film in my life, and never intended to. He gave out a good chuckle, and stated, “This is going to be fun.”

In the beginning, we watched films such as Nightmare on Elm Street and Nosferatu. Both were scary in the sense that looking away would cure my fear. It was when we began watching films such as The Exorcist that I experienced what horror films can do to a person who is not used to them. My body would cringe at the sounds, and the images would keep replaying in my head even after the movie ended. As my professor stated, when you are not used to such images, some films can be more sensitive than others.

Once we finished The Exorcist, I was terrified to watch our next film, The Ring. Then, something strange happened. We watched the first part of the film in class, and sure, I was scared, but I was fully invested in what I was watching. The next class was cancelled and I was devastated. I wanted to know how it ended. Finally, when we continued the film, I ended up hardly looking away from the screen. I started seeing the art of horror — not just the terror, but the thrill. I started to become interested in the genre that once made me afraid to even read the Wikipedia synopsis.

I asked my friend, who finds horror films hilarious, how she can sit there and laugh at what are supposed to be visual representations of our innermost fears, and she simply stated, “It’s not real.” That stuck out to me as I finished The Ring. I saw blood as red dye mixed with corn syrup, and dead skin as impressive makeup design.

Sure, do horror films still freak the crap out of me? Absolutely. Will I scroll through the horror category on Netflix to watch when I’m bored? No way! However, I feel like a better, more educated film studies minor for finally finding a way to appreciate such works of art.

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