It is true that no two people will get the same experience when they’ve watched the same film. It’s down to personal taste and your beliefs regarding a whole multitude of things ranging from religion to politics and sexual liberation to violence. However, it is clear to us at This Is Horror that one thing is true. Most people just don’t seem to be aware of exactly how to watch a horror film properly. This is tantamount to sacrilege in our eyes, as the whole point of watching a film from our favourite genre is so you can immerse yourself in the story and hopefully scare the crap out of yourself.
If you talk to your friends and work colleagues about a horror film you all may have seen, you will get a varied and wide range of responses about what they got out of it. Some will admit that it scared them, whilst others will be full of bravado and laugh at the experience. The problem is that in this day and age of desensitisation and lack of mystery (thanks internet, we’re looking at you!), you will be hard pushed to find anyone over the age of 13 who actually gets scared by watching horror films anymore. However, it is still possible if you follow our step-by-step process. If you’re sitting comfortably, then we’ll begin.
Firstly, do not, under any circumstances, watch a horror film at the cinema. Regardless of the quality of the film, you will more than likely have your experience ruined by imbeciles talking and texting on their phones or rustling through popcorn boxes and bags of sweets. Worst of all, you may have a heckler in your midst, who will spend the whole film shouting at the screen. We can all see and appreciate that the characters are making stupid decisions, so we don’t need a running commentary thank you very much.
You have the ultimate multiplex in your own living room or bedroom, with the price of home cinema systems lower than ever and the internet is offering yet another way to access films from the comfort of your abode if you can’t stomach the thought of traipsing to your local video store – if it’s still there that is.
Secondly, don’t watch horror films in 3D. Yes, it’s a great gimmick, but it won’t make the film any scarier and you’ll only be stumping up more money for the privilege of sitting with a pair of glasses on. If you can name one good horror film that made you jump because an oversized knife seemed to leap out of the screen at you then you are a better judge than us.
Remember when watching a film you need to create the right ambience and control your environment. Here’s a list of helpful no-no’s.
- DO NOT allow anything to interrupt your viewing pleasure. Switch off the phone, lock the door, close the curtains – to all intents and purposes, you’re not at home if someone wants to contact you.
- DO NOT watch a horror film during the day.
- DO NOT watch a horror film with the lights on (this is an extension of the previous point).
- DO NOT watch a horror film with the volume turned down. You may miss relevant plot points or deprive yourself of a nice satisfying jump scare moment.
Now you have your set up ready, thoughts turn to your viewing partner or buddy, if you have one. Be sure not to watch a horror film in the company of more than just one other person, otherwise the opportunity will arise for conversations to occur during quieter moments. You need to ensure that they are aware of the rules and they must agree to abide by them, or get out. There should be no tolerance of questions being asked during the duration of the film, such as the ubiquitous “Who’s that?” or “What are they doing?” Make them aware that if they require a toilet break, you will not be pausing the film.
Basically, anything that takes your concentration away from the film or affects your immersion in the events unfolding on the screen in front of you is bad. Anything that can bring you back to the cusp of reality should be considered contraband and eschewed accordingly. You have made a conscious decision to try and be scared witless, so don’t allow anything to take that away from you.
If you follow these simple rules, you will have a much better chance of allowing the film to scare or creep you out, but there is one final step to discuss, which happens to be the most important one of all.
Your choice of movie
Get this wrong and it matters not if you adhere to the rest of this guide. Everyone has a different set of buttons that, when pushed, request that your brain releases the necessary chemicals into your body to illicit the required rush. It is here, unfortunately, that you are on your own as you know what scares you the most, what pushes your buttons. We find that the classics are usually the best. Those films that don’t show you everything, but instead hint at the real terrors that are lurking just out of the shot. You can feel the fear of the characters on screen, but you can’t actually see what is scaring them so much. Imagination is your most powerful tool so don’t be afraid to use it. Otherwise, our team of reviewers should be able to point you in the direction of something that might be of interest to you. Hopefully…
In the words of Dan Ackroyd in The Twilight Zone: The Movie – “You wanna see something really scary?”