Four steps to stop being a scaredy-cat and start loving horror movies

Halloween is quickly approaching, so here's how to get in the spirit with scary films

When I was a kid, I immediately left the room in fear when a horror movie trailer popped up on the TV. Walking through stores during Halloween was a living nightmare as I navigated aisles filled with goblins and ghouls shouting out at me. 

And do not get me started about the haunted hayride I went on during freshman year of high school where at the end I had cursed out a scarecrow as tears streamed down my face. 

Yet, here I am today binge-watching “A Nightmare on Elm Street” at 3 a.m. no longer afraid Freddy Krueger is going to come out of my bed and suck me inside just like he did to Johnny Depp. 

So how did I manage to rid myself of the scaries?

1. Prepare Yourself Mentally

The worst part of any horror movie is the suspense. That deep pit in your stomach reminding you that something is going to happen — but when? That’s the real question. 

The unknown is a familiar phobia, and it is common for people to psych themselves out. At any moment Norman Bates could jump out causing even the burliest to let out a high-pitched scream. 

That was my main problem with horror films — I was constantly on edge for the next jump scare whilst peering through my hands. 

To prevent this, I started to read the synopses of movies beforehand. Though spoilers are expected, it helped me know what was to come and when to turn my head in case the scene was too gory.  

From there, I would decide whether or not the movie was worth the watch. If the ending made me uneasy, my decision was made. I felt comfortable knowing. I could finally sit through a two-hour flick without feeling the constant bundle of nerves in my stomach and beads of sweat drip off my brow. 


2. Remind Yourself It’s Not Real 

Some horror movies, like “The Strangers” or “Paranormal Activity,” are able to spook thanks to a sense of realism. From found-footage shots to “based on a true story” title cards, it’s easy to panic about the same events happening to you. 

Separate what is reality and fiction. Start by telling yourself everything will be OK, and watch your first horror flick with friends. This goes back to the idea of comfort — when you surround yourself with caring people in a familiar environment the situation will feel less terrifying.

3. Find Humor in Them 

As scary as horror movies set out to be, they are often just as comedic as they are frightening. 

Scream” takes the cake as a self-aware slasher that satirizes iconic horror tropes. Even “final girl” Sidney Prescott bluntly expresses how horror movies are all the same -- “some stupid killer stalking some big-breasted girl who can't act and is always running up the stairs when she should be running out the front door, it's insulting.”

Take Sidney’s energy and utilize it when watching horror films. Point out inconsistencies in the plot.

How did Michael Myers drive from Smith's Grove Sanitarium to his hometown when he was nearly catatonic for 15 years? 

If “Texas Chainsaw 3D” is a direct sequel to the 1974 original, then why is a cop using an iPhone if they weren’t invented yet?

These mistakes are funny and remind you that the story isn’t real, especially in the wake of iconic frights.

4. Don’t Be Ashamed to Step Back 

Horror films are not for everyone. Some people can't stomach the dark motifs for a number of reasons — all of which are valid, so who says watching gore and screaming has to be the norm?

Just because your friends may enjoy horror movies doesn’t mean you have to. Never force yourself to watch something that makes you uncomfortable. 

There have been times when I stopped the DVD or paused Netflix because a film became too much. You’re not a scaredy-cat, you’re just aware of your limits.

It is better to play it safe than be sorry. 

Spooky season is my favorite time of year, and the best way to celebrate is with a horror movie. There is nothing quite like a good scare to get you into the Halloween mood. 

Once you get past the initial frights, a whole new world is open to explore — one filled with gore, zombies, mutants and lots of aliens. 


Reach the reporter at omunson@asu.edu and follow @munson_olivia on Twitter. 

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