Happy Halloween Industrial Complex month! Those marketing execs who turned Christmas into a two plus month extravaganza (Think about that for just one minute: Christmas season, a holiday not even everyone celebrates, is one sixth of our American year now!) are now building Halloween into a 31 day (or more) celebration.
That can manifest itself in fun ways like delicious candy in the office or costume creators increasingly hilarious attempts to dodge trademarks. But it also shows up in ways you may not enjoy, like crappy candy in the office or being peer pressured into a scary movie night with friends.
In this forum, and only this forum!, I will admit that I am not a scary movie aficionado. Scary is not one of the many emotions I find enjoyable or chase. But life isn’t always Pleasantville. Sometimes it’s also Texas Chainsaw Massacre, whether we like it or not. And whether we like it or not, sometimes we are forced to watch a scary movie.
Like this, but with social pressures instead of actual, physical restraints
Maybe all your friends are doing it. Maybe that person you really like wants to watch. Maybe you want to support Jordan Peele because he is an incredible entertainer and you are a woke millennial who wants to support inclusion at the highest positions in Hollywood, even when it is going to scare the shit out of you.
Well, I have some good news for you. I have been watching the bare minimum of scary movies since middle school and am ready to share my top secret tips on how to watch a scary movie if you are a scaredy cat, like me.
Let’s start with the obvious. You can’t cover your eyes, because everyone will see it and that’s the most obvious scaredy cat behavior. But your eyes don’t have to see the movie, if you pick up what I’m putting down. Train your eyes just below the screen. If you’re in a theater, that’s easy because it’s dark already. If you are in a home, it can still be done! If anyone questions you, just be ready to ask why they aren’t watching the movie and can’t stop staring at you. Who’s the chicken now!?!?
Has anyone in this family ever even SEEN a horror movie?
Step 2: Bathroom breaks. But you really have to be careful with these. You get two at the most, like yellow cards in soccer, and after the first, you will draw a lot of scrutiny with any suspicious move. Maybe you can get some water or snacks for others, but that’s going to really come down to how well you sell it.
Some other tools in the bathroom break toolkit include a sneezing fit (haven’t tested this one in a post-Covid era), a contact lens adjustment, and an emergency phone call (but only if you are really REALLY desperate).
Step 3 isn’t for everyone, but if you are someone who can meditate or space out, this is a good time for that. But, a warning, this is not an amateur move, as it leaves you very open to taking in all of the scary content. Maybe you can focus on a podcast you just listened to or walk yourself through some solutions for a complex problem you’ve been putting off. Even if you can merely zone out the plot, it will go a long way to help you on the post movie psychology front, when you are alone in the dark, later.
There are advanced level moves like ordering food delivery for the distraction, but the wide array of variables and sudden door knocking could really turn things for the worst. Likewise an accidental “sitting on” the clicker can cut a tense moment down to size, but will likely elicit too much surveillance.
Any combination of those should buy you enough time away from the scares, but it won’t protect you from everything.
And look for my upcoming sequel “Avoiding Roller Coasters for Dummies (And/or Scaredy Cats)”.