How I Went From "Afraid of Everything" to Being Obsessed With Horror

When I was seven years old, I was obsessed with sharks and dinosaurs, and my dad tried to introduce me to Jaws. He took me over to the DVD case and took it out, showing me the cover: the one with the woman swimming and a giant shark emerging from the depths to eat her. I became terrified of sharks, particularly in swimming pools, but also fascinated with them. For months, I would make my dad sit with me to watch Jaws, but would only get through the first lines of the opening music before screaming and running away. Finally, I was able to sit through the first five minutes, and the rest was smooth sailing (not for the main cast). It became one of my favorite movies to watch, and unbeknownst to me, the first “horror” movie I watched. 

But after that, I was afraid of everything, and I mean everything. Literally, the live-action Nancy Drew with Emma Roberts made me lose my mind because there were “people hiding in the walls” and I was terrified of Spider-Man. There was no end, so horror movies were not even an option to consider. If you cannot watch PG Nancy Drew (which I would argue is still terrifying), you really shouldn’t try for bigger things. And I didn’t, not until a little before college. 

During my freshman year, I decided to take a course called “Making Monsters.” There was not much of a course description, but I thought it was going to be about “making monsters,” perhaps through my preferred medium, which was writing. As someone who writes primarily about alien sci-fi, I thought this would expand my horizons and help me create more complex villains and characters. In preparation for the course, about a week before I went to school, I noticed that we had a boxed set that contained the entire Alien Franchise. My dad proclaimed that it was the “scariest thing he had ever seen,” and I was determined to watch it. I did not find it scary, which I understand is a sign of the times. He saw it in theaters with a bunch of people who had no idea that an alien was going to burst out of someone’s chest. I had seen it before on YouTube and when I saw it, I remarked, “Awww, a little guy.” I found the franchise to be more adventurous than scary, but nevertheless, I loved it. I fell for the xenomorph, which I took into my “Making Monsters” class. 

Two Ghosts Standing in Front of a Brick Wall Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

This class had very little to do with me learning about “how to write a monster,” but it did involve reading monstrous stories and watching movies, which exposed me to movies of the horror genre. We watched movies in class and talked about them, and I began to realize that my stories could even be in the horror genre. As soon as the class ended, I started to look into some tamer horror movies on streaming sites, so I could pause whenever I thought it might be too scary. I paused my way through Bird Box, found a love for Korean horror like Train to Busan, and debated whether or not a lot of the movies I loved were even considered horror at all. 

After that, I decided to delve into horror movies that were actually tagged “horror.” Jump scares are pretty predictable nowadays (they always change the music beforehand), so I know to put my hands partially over my eyes and look out through a grating. With this figured out and the power of pause, there really was not much that could scare me, and horror became my favorite genre. I recently had my dad watch The Conjuring after I loved it, and guess what? He also loved it. Now I have to get him to watch the second one, which is not as good as the first one, but still pretty good.

I don’t know specifically what changed my opinion on horror movies, but I do know that you don’t have to have one opinion for your entire life. I still won’t watch Nancy Drew though. We all have our limits.