[Guest Posts]

Horror and the Communal Experience

What is it about seeing something so scary we have to show it to our friends? Or maybe you’re too scared to see it alone and you have to drag someone along? This is not a new phenomenon, but it’s still a curious one. Depending who you see a horror movie with, it creates a unique and individual experience. Horror movies are a fun and safe way to have an adrenaline rush. I love watching them with friends or family, going on a date, or in a crowded theatre.

When you have a sibling, you grow up sharing your interests with each other, even if your tastes are different. Scaring my younger sister is how I bonded with her when we were kids. I loved horror movies, but watching them alone isn’t always fun. I would show my sister movies knowing she’d never appreciate them like I did, but I wanted her to try and see what I got out of them, or just have fun watching her squirm. I have a memory as a teenager, taking her with me to see House of Wax, and how upset she was with me when Elisha Cuthbert’s character had her lips super-glued together and the tip of her finger cut off. That didn’t stop me in the future from trying to take her to the next horror film.

For me, it’s an interesting experience dating, between guys who like horror films, guys who maybe casually watch them, or guys who have no interest in the genre (fun fact: I get along better with men who have their own horror movie collection). The connection is naturally stronger when a man can speak my language, but it’s also pretty fun to date someone who hasn’t seen so many scary movies, but is down for the ride. One of the best first dates I went on was with a guy I met at a party and we talked scary movies all night. About a week later, we went to see Krampus. We went in with low expectations, and even though we weren’t scared, we had an absolute blast.

Personally, my best communal experience watching a horror film is inside a crowded theatre at a movie premiere or a film festival. The energy is already high, and there’s a good mixture of fanboys and the average movie-goer. When the lights go dark during those ninety-minutes, people are clutching their armrests, covering their eyes, or holding their breath. Collectively, when a large group of people are together to see a movie for the first time, it’s great excitement. I remember going to the premiere for The Autopsy of Jane Doe with my friend Marky. I had no idea what the movie was about, and before the end, it almost left me unconscious. I watch scary movies all time, but when a film is scary, I get scared.

It’s always fun recalling with whom and when you saw a movie and how scared you were. What are some of your favorite shared horror movie memories?

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