Scaring is Caring: Why Horror Films Should Be Watched with Your Best Mates

Halloween is approaching and Hollywood wants you to know about it. Whether it’s the terrifying ‘Paranormal Activity: Ghost Dimension’ trailer catching you unawares at the cinema or Netflix recommending you a film from its carefully collated new Halloween section, this is the time of the year to get thoroughly freaked-out. And who better to huddle around your TV with than your friends? Horror films are the foundations on which female friendship is built. Think back to Year Six sleepovers – sleeping bags squashed on a living-room floor, Haribo sweets passed around in bowls, cups of Coke that you’d down like vodka shots. The girl whose house it was would get one of her parents’ scary DVDs, and you’d all giggle as you started watching.

Cut to screaming (followed by shushing: “My dad has to be up early for work!”). Cut to little glances all around you – what was that noise in the kitchen? Did someone just go past the window? Cut to 1am and sending the bravest girl into the bathroom to do Bloody Mary, leading, inevitably, to a sleepless night and the following day spent being grumpy with your family. The films you started off with were likely a little random: you couldn’t go out to Tesco to buy the newest releases yourself, so you had to rely on an older brother who loved ‘Saw’ or a father who had every Stephen King release. Still, you’d all hold hands and then laugh at whoever jumped the most when the monster appeared, and in the daytime you’d remember the things you’d all gone through. As Hermione Granger notes, there are some things in life you can’t share without becoming friends. Watching ‘Psycho’ in some girl from your class’ fancy lounge is one of them.

As you get older, you can actually go to the cinema to be scared out of your wits. My friends still talk about the time we went to see ‘Drag Me To Hell’ in Year Nine – it can scar you, in the best way. When something terrifying is on the big screen it’s so much harder to ignore. After seeing ‘Paranormal Activity 2’ with a friend, I found myself physically shaking, even after we went for a wander around the arcades and I won loads of two pence pieces.

(Because everyone knows the worst part about a horror film isn’t when you’re watching it; it’s when you’re in your house afterwards, and every creak of the floorboards is a ghost come to murder you.) But then – you figure it out. You learn what’s scary and what’s just boring; you learn that if you follow the sacred rule of Something Creepy followed by Something Funny, you’ll be able to sleep that night. And you start to make fun of what you were once petrified by, competing on the sofa to get the best withering remark about the bad CGI or the dreadful acting. Last year,  my housemate and I watched ‘It Follows’ in broad daylight. We know our limits.

Even with these precautionary measures, something about the careful dichotomy between fear and safety, terror and comfort that watching horror movies with your friends provides is rare and inimitable. Nothing says girl bonding like watching a massive blood ghost follow Mia Wasikowska around a Gothic mansion before walking in the cold back to Lenton, gossiping about plot holes and Tom Hiddleston. It’s a bit like going to a theme park: all adrenaline spikes and moments so absurdly horrible all you can do is laugh and laugh and ask if you can have a bit of your friend’s popcorn.


Edited by Tia Ralhan