In A thought, film, Writing


You know when you want something to be perfect, so you hold off on it until you’re sure you are in a space to make sure it’s exactly how you want it to be? But then it tends to become a massive problem where you never get things done? Did I go too far?

I’m a raging perfectionist. But who’s not (right)? The issue is, I’m pretty sure it’s medically diagnosable for me at this point–it has severely infiltrated almost every part of my life, even in places it doesn’t need to be or doesn’t make sense in. For that reason, it’s important to note that this will be a reoccurring theme in my work (or lack thereof). That could mean many things, but the part I’m getting at is nothing I do is quite what I want it to be…and since that’s an overwhelming feeling, I tend to retreat from doing things (all kinds of things).

But, I’ll try not to do that here, so to start, I want to talk about a journey I’m going on (one that I’m pretty brave to be going on if I do say so myself). It’s also a journey that I never, and I mean never, thought I’d be going on at any point in my life. This isn’t even the perfectionism talking.

It’s my overwhelming fear of…fear.

I don’t do “scary movies” (in any capacity, really). I don’t do haunted houses, scary stories, ghost hunting TV shows, or any part of Halloween that isn’t carving pumpkins and painting my face. Do I sound 9 yet? I just can’t quite grasp the appeal of intentionally opting to have my insides feel like they’re wringing each other dry. BUT SO MANY OTHER PEOPLE DO? I’ve spent decades (2) completely content with Tim Burton films being the scariest movies I’ve seen (not that they scare me… I’m not actually 9, but I’m comfortable with the idea of not having nightmares).

Here’s where things get a little twisted, though.

As of whatever-freaking-month-we’re-in, 2020, I’ve decided to voluntarily start erasing the very thick, imaginary line I’ve drawn between myself and horror films for the last 22 years…and that’s a big deal for me (if you couldn’t already tell from reading up until this point).

I don’t particularly like knowing anything about a movie before I watch it. The emptier my expectations, the better. That doesn’t work very well, however, when I keep an extremely large barrier between me and such an expansive genre. As a result of this tendency however, I’ve realized that over the last several years I’ve been able to make a decent-sized list of films that I’ve seen (and enjoyed) that I later found out were horror films. Okay, yes, sub-genre’s matter, but it’s a pretty long list for someone who’s sworn to keep a thick distance from even the idea of horror. So how does something like this even happen? I’m determined to find out.

In the midst of working on several projects I thought maybe now was not the best time to explore something so dramatic (for me), but like I said, I’ll try not to do that here.

For very selfish reasons, I’m interested in figuring out how to better distinguish horror films (going deeper than sub-genres). I’ve realized there are way too many films I’ve shielded myself from that aren’t even…dare I say it…that scary. It’s become almost a phenomenon for me. Some of my friends hate me because I “won’t do anything fun,” while others, who are just as fearful as I am, won’t listen to my recommendations when I tell them that I watched a film and didn’t find it scary.

That’s not even going into my threshold of: I was a little scared, but the film was totally worth it.

If I want to see a film without having the entire thing spoiled for me…how can I feel safe selecting a horror with no idea if it’s going to be like Coraline (2009), Jaws (1975), The Conjuring (2013), Ring (1998), Saw (2004), or The Shining (1980)? Sub-genre’s are not enough for me! I’ve tried Googling so many lists, reviews, and scary-meters(?), but somehow I get the same movies showing up on “beginner horror films” and “scariest horror films of all time.”

And I’d like to mention that even after just a quick search I have to step out into the sunshine for a while because just the photos haunt me.

So here I am. Just a gal who hates being scared, but absolutely loves film (especially the good kind). I’ve accepted that there are some movies I just have to get through for historic purposes, and others that have amazing reviews I can’t help but feeling left out from. The waters are muddy, but I’m about to start sloshing through.

For the love of film, and for the sake of figuring out what it is that scares me the most.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Noah Key

    I couldn’t agree with you more. For the longest time, Tim Burton would be the scariest I would go too. I started going slow about two years ago when I saw The Shining, but then my friends threw me into the deep end when we watched Hereditary for a movie night. I absolutely loved the cinematography and story, despite it scaring me like crazy. I’m now back to going slow, so I don’t think I’ll be watching anything like Saw or Hellraiser anytime soon. But embrace your journey, don’t let anyone else decide what it is for you.

  • Raul Alejandro Mendoza

    This is an excellent post, Emily. There is an interesting route to take when you are feeling like maybe that route isn’t for me. This is how I felt when approaching films that are a bit too realistic to the world we live in, for example, I felt an extreme form of emptiness and sorrow after watching COME AND SEE (1985). I think we owe it ourselves as artists to explore the various genres and watch things that could possibly expand our artistic mind. I hope that you update us with the different films you watch, and if I can recommend one I would recommend you watch, Dario Argento’s INFERNO (1980)

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