Musings on Horror (Sinister 2 spoilers abound!)

Did I say spoilers? Yes, yes, I did. Ye be warned.

So,

HOLY HORROR MOVIE EXCELLENCE!

I got to see Sinister 2 tonight with one of my roommates, who also loves horror movies. (Guys, it’s good to have a friend who works at the local theater.)

And I’ve never been so scared by a horror movie, in all honesty.

WHAT? ME?

Yes. I was terrified. And these were the scenes that aren’t the boogeyman and his army of creepy children.

It’s horrific not because of any of that. It’s a woman on the run from her abusive husband, taking her twin boys with her. One of whom was beat up by his father.

AND THE EMOTIONAL COMPLICATIONS!

Dylan, the one who was Daddy’s punching bag, is a quiet, scared kid. His brother Zach is the one who’s more like Daddy, starting so innocently with pushing and name calling. Dylan is the one chosen by the evil army of undead children, but Zach can see them, too, and he’s jealous. Even more, he knows he’s better than his weak brother, so he can’t understand why they picked the “pussy.”

Only one small piece of the horror revolves around Dylan being forced to watch the homemade snuff films with his sadistic new friends, while the evil child-eating thing lurks in the background. The main horror is domestic abuse victims trying to escape the abuser. He hires private detectives to track them down. He drives up to the front door with cops, unaware of Dylan inside, hiding under a bed.

It’s also in Zach, who lets his jealousy get the better of him, and beats up Dylan. Who is far too much his father’s son—Round Two just waiting to happen. He takes up the mantle of “filming” that Dylan doesn’t want.

It’s also in the mother, herself. A woman who finally did something to protect Dylan, but not soon enough. A woman who has no choice but to watch Zach become like his father.

This bastard father regains legal custody of the twins, and their mother has to come along for the ride if she wants to stay with them. That’s the real horror—being forced back into that. Having to wait to eat until Daddy starts eating. Jumping when he shouts.

That dinner scene was the worst of it for me. Seeing that awful silence at the table. And, when Dylan says he isn’t hungry, his father picks up a handful of mashed potatoes and shoves them in his face.

It wasn’t the blood, gore, or violence I flinched away from. It was that one moment. That one moment horrified me more than any horror movie has ever done. It was raw, primal emotion. Breaking me down to the things every horror movie tries to do. I couldn’t help caring about the family, and wanting the best for them. Biting my nails in nervousness that they would be killed.

And also, we have Deputy So and So coming back, getting involved with this family. The perfect adorkable hero. What’s not to love?

In short, I think this movie will sucker punch abuse victims. Personally, I loved it. Almost like cutting, horror makes me feel. During a horror movie, I realize that I’m alive. And I’m grateful for that fact. That I can leave this world of dismal darkness and gray color schemes behind, and go out into vibrant colors and sunshine. But horror isn’t for everyone. Especially not Sinister 2.

But, in Mac’s list, it might just have made the Top 10. Heck, Top 3? Top 1? Just maybe.

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On Dystopia

Let’s get into the fictional world a bit, okay? Okay.

So, dystopian fiction! So popular lately. The Hunger Games. Divergent. What have you. What’s all that stuff about?

Well, I’m here to tell you.

Just let me push my glasses up my nose, here. Have to get the right pretentious feel of the geek who knows so much more than everyone else, you know?

There. That’s better.

Anyway, my roommate absolutely loathes anything dystopian. I have a hard time understanding that. Sure, I’m not into the recent fad, but there are some really great dystopian stories out there. Anthem is one of my favorite examples. Harrison Bergeron. I love the way they make me think! So, this all lead me to write her a little mini-essay about dystopias, which I will shell out for you all, here.

Before you get any farther, no, I’m not talking about the new ones. They are not relevant to my rambling. I try to avoid them.

Once upon a time, in a Utah town not all that far away, Mac was in high school, and had the opportunity to specifically study fantasy and science fiction. For credit.

Oh, it was a magical time! Filled with some of the worst, and best, books she had ever read.

But that’s not the point. I digress. Again.

See, dystopia is an attempt to moderate the extremists. You know, those people with all their fancy ideas for how the world could be better. If we were all equal! If we all shared, and the government ran everything! If we didn’t let emotion control us! If we could all be pretty! If we could stop crimes before they happen by analyzing someone’s psyche!

The point of a dystopian story is to say, “Yes, but. . .” and take that utopia these people have imagined, and point out the flaws. Show people the awful truth behind the pretty lies.

Now, dystopias are downright depressing, usually. But they do make you think (or me, at least). It makes me open my eyes a little more to the world around me, and realize that things aren’t as bad as they could be. Not by a long shot!

I’d provide you guys with a list of my favorite dystopian books/movies/what have you, but I’m not a very good judge. That stuff and depression don’t really mix well together, sometimes. I tried, and I could only come up with three off the top of my head. I haven’t even read most of the greats. So I will duck my head back down, and shut up now.

Thanks for reading. You guys rock.

Classic Favorites: The Lord of the Rings

Poster

The first LOTR poster I ever saw.

For me, Lord of the Rings can be more commonly referred to as The One That Started It All. Before that, books meant little to me. Mostly because I was reading Babysitter’s Club at the time (and the Amish books that my mother sanctioned for me). But when the movie of Fellowship of the Ring came out, my dad fanboyed enough that he convinced my sister to go see it with him, first. And then he took me. It was love at first scene.

So, my daddy got me to read the books, and I had them all finished by the same time the next year, when Two Towers came out.

Lord of the Rings was my first obsession. I drew it, I acted it with my stuffed animals, I wrote it all over my dresser. Why? Unlike Harry Potter, which I got into shortly after, my sister and my mother didn’t like it. It was a Me And Daddy thing. It opened up a huge door for my imagination. A gateway to a new, previously inconceivable world of magic and adventure. It was dreaming about Lord of the Rings characters that got me to start writing in the first place.

Through my love of Lord of the Rings, I started to eventually expand my horizons. Other fantasy. Dragonlance. The Belgariad. Turning anywhere for a new source of this fantasy world my mother was so certain was evil.

Eventually, I developed other obsessions. Harry Potter. The Belgariad and Dragonlance. Dean Koontz. And Lord of the Rings—the original—faded into the background. My obsession with it was too much—too intense. For, when it came to Lord of the Rings, I would have to sit and watch the movies without allowing anything to interrupt. And after it was over, I’d be lost in the thought of it. Maybe because I was reminded of my original, childish obsession with it. Or maybe because it’s still–and will always be–the One Fandom To Rule Them All.

So, I usually studiously avoid it, lest I once more be pulled into that black hole of fandom worship. But it’s hard, sometimes. Like with the Hobbit movies being in theaters. After watching An Unexpected Journey (midnight showing, of course), I spent the entire next day moping around in an obsessive haze. The same with Desolation of Smaug, just a few weeks ago. And now, here I am, watching Fellowship of the Ring again with my roommate who’s never seen them. And what am I doing? Not working on my own writing. Just writing about my deep and abiding love of Lord of the Rings.

And I’m falling in love all over again.

My Love Affair with Horror

Horror. Horror! Oh, the horror!

Scary stuff. Fear. Things that go bump in the night. Something under the bed or in the closet. The monsters of reality and our imaginations. Of course, here, the Kingdom of Under The Covers isn’t safe.

Muahahahaha!

Moving past that.

I’m a horror junkie. I love seeing if I can be scared, and I love scaring other people. Acting in a haunted house was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done.

For me, subjecting myself to horror movies is challenging myself not to be scared. Seeing how fearless I am. Moving forward when others shrink away.

When someone is afraid of you, you have power over them. They’re the prey, and you’re joined in a complex dance. And it’s a wonderful, addictive feeling. Why do you think so many people have fed off of it? When someone is afraid of you, you can control them. Make them do what you want. If you know a person’s fears, you can manipulate them. And being able to do that is quite the thrill.

For instance, think of how often men are manipulated because of their male ego. A fear of not being masculine.Now, I may not be a good person, but let me straighten this out—I’m not a horrible person, either. I promise, I’ve never killed anyone, and I’m a relatively good little Mormon girl. I’m just pointing this stuff out because it’s interesting to me.

I think my love of horror stemmed from wanting to prove what a little badass (forgive the language) I was. Step away from the whiny, sensitive crybaby image. I read Dracula when I was ten, and I watched Stephen King’s Rose Red the same year. Both terrified me, of course. Particularly Rose Red, which is still near the top of my favorite horror movies.

At eleven, me and my dad started going to see horror movies together. Like Darkness and White Noise, both of which also gave me nightmares. I tried reading  Dean Koontz’s Hideaway that year and The Voice of The Night the next. Both were too adult for me at the time. And then, of course, my sister read Koontz’s Lightning, and warned me off his books, saying he was “a sex maniac.” Well, she was only thirteen or fourteen.

So, staying away from Koontz, I read The Shining in eighth grade, Bag of Bones that summer. Carrie and ‘Salem’s Lot during freshman year, I believe. Sometime around there, my dad decided to show me Night of the Living Dead, which I couldn’t watch all the way through because my mother had made greasy, flavorless chicken for dinner, and that combined with watching zombies eating intestines made me sick.

Sophomore year I went to my first drama club meeting, where they were requesting actors for the local haunted house. I decided to try it. And that, let me tell you, is where my true love of horror came from. My inability to scare easily. I worked in a haunted house that was really haunted. How much scarier could you get?

So, after that season, I started expanding my horizons with Silence of the Lambs and Resident Evil. I picked up another Koontz book, and found myself hooked. I started watching most of the horror movies I could get my hands on, though I avoided most of the classics and the slashers, because they looked stupid.

And after four more years of working in that haunted house before retiring, as it were, I think I know my horror pretty well.

My Top Ten Horror Movies:

  1. Insidious—Made me jump, even in the height of my cocky horror-movies-don’t-scare-me phase, and wasn’t in the least what I was expecting.
  2. Dead Silence—Scared me so badly I had to go sit outside in the sun, and I still didn’t feel safe!
  3. The Rite—A good possession movie for those who don’t watch R-rated movies, but still want quality. Can’t get better than the great Anthony Hopkins!
  4. Rose Red—One of my classic favorites, terrified me for days on end the first time I saw it. The best in haunted house movies.
  5. Devil—Some good jumps, but the story is the best part.
  6. Stay Alive—Atmosphere, baby! Horror game that’s for reals? Erzebet Bathory? Heck yeah!
  7. The Woman in Black—Saw this with my sister and my best friend on my birthday. Sister doesn’t do the horror thing. Her reaction was the best part, but it’s a good, creepy story with some satisfying jumps.
  8. 1408—I like this one mostly for the story and the concept, although it has a few good jumps and some fun twists.
  9. White Noise—A favorite from my younger days. Still has the power to make me jump, besides being a good concept.
  10. The Devil Inside—That woman is seriously disturbing. That’s some quality acting, right there!

I’d add a list of books, too, but it’s so incredibly rare for a book to scare me. They very rarely have the same power over me as movies.