Last night as I was watching The Daily Show, there was a commercial for a new Christmas based horror flick. I had to shut my eyes and plug my ears until it was over. This is not a new thing for me of course, but I’m trying to decide if I am the only thirty-something alive who is unable to watch horror or heavily suspenseful movies. It is not even that I don’t like them; I really and truly can’t watch them. I have deviated from this rule a few times, and have always paid a hefty price for it. I still remember watching Night of the Living Dead in all of its black and white cheesiness, making fun of it all through the movie, only to have two solid weeks of nightmares about the zombies coming to get me. I would lay awake at night and be totally sure that some non-mortal being would grab me, no matter how much I assured myself that this couldn’t be the case. I managed to avoid the teenaged viewings of Friday the 13th movies, and the Nightmare on Elm Street flicks, but did get sucked into Halloween. Halloween was terrifying and probably caused me a month or more of nightmares and uneasy bedtimes. My friends assured me that I was just overreacting, and none of them had similar problems dealing with the scary and gory movies. I assume I am just a freak of nature unable to get past seeing something on television and thinking about its implications in my life.
It seems some people are less bothered by the “slasher” type films because they are so graphic and violent that they couldn’t possibly happen in real life, but I cannot. However, suspenseful films that are more closely tied to reality do have a greater impact on my ability to sleep at night. The movie Seven for instance, will forever be burned in my memory, and I curse the day I relented and agreed to watch it with my now DH. That movie disturbed me so much that I can’t even discuss scenes from it without having disturbed sleep, despite the fact that it has been many years since I saw it. Sometimes the images you don’t see on the screen do haunt you far more than the ones you do see. There have been other movies in that vein, and I don’t allow myself to watch them. I know it frustrates my DH that we are so limited in our selection of movies we can watch together because of my unreasonable fears. He has taken to DVRing movies like that and just watching them when I am not around.
My fear is so great that it now extends to regular network television programs. I cannot watch shows like Criminal Intent, or even some episodes of CSI when there is “disturbing” content, even Medium gets to me. These are all shows that DH likes to watch, so he DVRs them and watches them when I am occupied with other things. Of course commercials advertising movies and even television shows also get to me. I really wonder if this is a problem for me. Is it weird that I cannot shut my brain off at night? I know rationally that I am not in danger, but my mind keeps spinning these crazy scenarios anyway. I wouldn’t say that these fears rule my life to any extent. I don’t alter plans or deviate my routines because I really fear being slashed with a machete when I walk out the door, but as I’m trying to sleep I get caught in this loop that tortures me. Perhaps I just need some Ambien, or maybe I just need to keep watching happy movies and choosing things like Cheaper by the Dozen 2 even if it is predictable and lame…at least I know I won’t lie awake at night thinking about Steve Martin’s family of 12 coming to get me (though it might make me double check my birth control method!).
Still what is up with a Christmas slasher movie? What does that say about our world?