I have always been a horror fan. At a young age my favorite show was Are you Afraid of the Dark? and my reading consisted of any Goosebumps books. While not scary by today’s standards, to my little mind they were scary and exhilarating. My first official horror movie was one of the A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, and it hooked me. Having two older brothers, I was exposed to things early. When my brothers started watching horror films, so did I. Switching from The Little Mermaid to A Nightmare on Elm Street was everyone’s childhood right? My teens were no better with a developing interest in serial killers, I had expanded into real life horror. One of my fondest memories is from 7th grade history class. We were asked to write about a person from history. I choose Ted Bundy. Horror movies seemed to be an escape, while their real life counter parts kept me curious in humans gone wrong.
As a teen, I prided myself in sitting through the worst that horror movies had to offer without flinching. I could never pinpoint why I loved horror movies. Could it be a way of dealing with the horrors of the world from safely inside a movie theater? Was it an indirect way of coping with my own Mortality? At that time, horror movies still had a predictable feel. Most people would die, but there was a happy ending for at least one. I felt confident at the end of them. I always knew that I would be the one to survive.
As the genre changed, so did I. I can remember movies like Seven feeling different, breaking the typical horror mold. The villains were not magical evil creatures that killed for fun, they were smart humans. It was not until the Saw series began that I started to be more selective about my horror films. After seeing Saw for the first time I did not have the, “I would surely out smart the bad guy feel.” My first thought was, “I can totally see someone doing that.” It was a weird awakening. This was not some supernatural bad guy, he seemed real. He seemed too similar to the morbid news stories I read.
It was not until recently that someone called me out on my morbid media obsession (Special thanks to my partner). Prior to his bringing it up, I had never connected the dots. I read a variety of news stories, but I paid more attention to traumatic news stories. With an interest in abnormal human behavior, I never found it unusual. I wanted to know why, however I rarely found it. Always curious, I felt a certain amount of academic separation between me and these distant happenings. Until after researching a particularly traumatic news story, I broke down. For this story, there would never be a how or why and it terrified me.
I still love horror movies and traumatic news stories. With age, I have learned what topics interest me most and when to step away from researching to not overwhelm myself . My favorite horror movies are the less gory ones, full of questions and suspense. I will always be curious about the human condition. Even if given the chance to let it go, I am sure I would cling to it. Being interested in horror is not necessarily about death, it can also be about appreciating life.