Once again, my son tells me of a movie he is certain will terrify me to no end. This latest cinematic gem is titled, Hereditary. I finally watched it on Amazon Prime and, once again, I am nowhere close to being frightened. I laughed at some scenes. I thought the editing was bad. Continuity issues were prominent. The characters were unlikable. My son was miffed when I told him my thoughts and accused me of watching it with the lights on. I didn't, but now wish I had, maybe I would have stopped dozing off.
So, this started my thinking as to what it takes to get scared these days? Is it a generational difference or something wired into our brains? My siblings and I were not allowed to watch anything that could warp our fragile little minds, though that didn't stop my parents from piling us into the station wagon to go watch Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte at the drive-in. They did make us shut our eyes and turn away when the scary parts appeared. Yeah, that worked!
Once I was away from parental oversight I caught up on all the classic horror films: the Jason series, Friday the 13th, Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, etc. Sorry, I just didn't feel scared. I was disgusted by the stupid plots and actions of the characters, however. How predictable that the young girl running through the woods trips on a fallen branch? No, don't go down those dark stairs into the basement, idiot! What, when half of your friends have been killed in a camp, you can't find an effective way to hide from a demented murderer?
The closest I came to being scared by a movie was viewing Alien in a Little Rock big-screen theater. The only seats left by the time we got in were on the second row and we saw everything up close. Yes, my heart rate increased quite a bit by the ending. Why did this one frighten but not the others? I liked the protagonist, Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver as well as the other characters. The soundtrack intensified the terror. The alien was kept hidden for much of the movie, increasing the anxiety of the unknown. The plot was believable, although set in the future. Since we don't know the future, the actions in the movie were possible.
The first series of True Detective aired on HBO in 2014. Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson starred as detectives working to solve a bizarre series of murders. Now, I admit, I was gripping the arms of my chair watching that first season. I was scared, anxious, and horrified! Why? Again, excellent acting, characters that are relatable, a believable plot with psychological twists, smart dialogue and pacing made all the difference. Alas, the two subsequent seasons of the series have not measured up to the first.
Maybe what actually keeps me from being frightened by movies and televised shows is the reality of today. People have been killed at concerts, nightclubs, cafes, and, yes, even movie theaters. Children gunned down in schools, worshipers shot to death in churches and synagogues. Crazed apocalyptic mutants chasing holocaust survivors in the desert a la Mad Max is nothing compared to the all too likely probability of being run down on the interstate by a deranged housewife consumed with road rage.
Terrorists have flown planes into buildings on a sunny day in New York. Suicide bombers walk into a restaurant and blow themselves to bits, killing innocents who had no idea that this would be their last day on this world. How does that stack up to the possibility of mischievous spirits coming back from the dead, or zombies eating our brains?
So, forgive me if I don't get all worked up over a movie depicting an ancient evil possessing bodies and forcing others to do despicable acts toward others. Reality is much scarier.
-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed are those of the author.Editorial on 02/06/2019
Print Headline: Are you scared yet?