Lately it seems like almost everything worth watching – from The last of us For yellow jackets For pearl For Skinamarink – is absolutely terrifying. It makes sense: the high stakes of our late capitalist end times seem to demand the most intense viewing possible just to make us feel something, and if you’re the kind of person who can manage to watch something scary without having a complete breakdown, I’m sure you revel in the horror movie’s current power at the box office. For me, it’s a bit more complicated.
I can trace my fear of horror movies and scary tv shows return to what is called in my family “the Jeepers Creepers incident,” in which my high school cousins were tasked with babysitting an eight-year-old me and another family friend of the same age and decided it would be a good idea to keep us busy watching the aforementioned 2001 horror movie while they shot hoops outdoors. The family friend and I were both traumatized, and he certainly never came back, but the real loss that day was my sense of bravery. I used to think of myself as a pretty tough third-grader, but by the time the credits were rolling Jeepers CreepersI cried hysterically and swore never to sleep alone again.
I’m proud to say that at 29 I’ve completely conquered my fear of the dark, but I’m still closer to a ninth grader in terms of appetite for scary content. I had to watch the first season of Yellow jackets – a show about young women surviving a devastating plane crash and building a bizarre, possibly supernatural, new society in the Canadian wilderness – between my fingers and only after first reading a detailed plot summary of every episode so that I’m not surprised by anything gory or psychologically terrifying. I really don’t know if I can handle setting season two in March, but for not it feels like a miss, especially because it’s one of the best-crafted and weirdest shows on TV right now. In the end, is it worth the sleepless nights?
I first felt the compulsion to overcome my phobia when A24 came out Midsommar in 2019, and while I know the Florence Pugh-directed movie isn’t terribly scary compared to your average slasher movie, I was so disturbed by its opening scene that I couldn’t even concentrate on the plot. I spent the whole movie curling up in my seat and asking my date to relate what was going on in a non-scary way, which, by the way, isn’t what I would call a hot romantic advice.