What Horror Means to Me

Only the light of the full moon and the HD television screen filled the room as a bent-neck lady loomed over a sleeping young Nell. I screamed so loudly that I made my mother jump and my dog, Belle, go into attack mode. 

Scary films are not just for Halloween, they play on a typical night in my family’s household and have been standard in my twenty-one years of life. The shows and movies I watch today are influenced by my mother and my Aunt Bridget. The most vivid childhood experience I have of watching a horror film was when I watched the It mini-series from 1990. My cousins and I became terrified of clowns after watching my mom’s “fun” movie suggestion. I couldn’t say “it” for nearly a year. I was petrified that Pennywise would show up and send me down the drain. My fear bolstered me to prove that I was brave. Pennywise was only powerful when you feared him. If I was able to quell the terror I felt, I would beat him. I went back to the film years later to conquer my fear. Revisiting this film also made me remember that despite being frightened, watching it was a fun experience I shared with my family. It was something we always talked about when we saw each other. To this day, it is one of my favorite things to watch. I have a “You’ll Float Too” sticker on my laptop to prove it. 

As a child, I was excited to go to my grandmother’s house because my aunt would be there to show me something new and terrifying. We watched the SyFy channel and all the B- movies that came along with it. I remember the terrifying humanoid crawlers from The Descent and to “Beware of the Blob” from The Blob. I was scared out of my mind but luckily had a loved one there to protect me. Watching horror movies was something special we did together. My aunt would tell me all about her favorite shows like Dexter, Supernatural, and Being Human. I found myself drawn to them after she passed; it makes me feel like I’m with her when I watch these shows now. 

Horror is universal because everyone has fears. We would all be scared of the zombies from Train to Busan, just like we would all run in horror from Freddy Krueger invading our dreams. It is a place of comfort for me because it is so familiar. When there is nothing to watch it always offers a welcoming claw, kitchen knife, or EMF detector. I know I will be afraid, deal with the fear in the moment, and laugh about it afterward. It is a powerful bonding experience to see the reactions of my friends and family. The discussions afterward are often more interesting than the actual films. We all have a common monster to talk about, many “did you see [blank]" moments, and tears of joy when we all get jump-scared at the same time. Ultimately, horror means a connection to the ones I love.