I love October. Finally the weather is cooler, and there are so many scary movies. It seems like every channel on television is showing some sequel to Friday the Thirteenth or Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween. On any given night of the week, I can flip the channels from one screaming teenager to another, and I love it.
I love scary movies. I love the suspense. I love the characters making stupid decisions to run barefoot in the woods or enter the dark basement because the lights went out. I love the more traditional films where there is always a heroine, and she escapes the psycho creep in the end. I am not really crazy about the gross out torture pictures. I prefer to use my imagination which is ten times scarier and not nearly as gory.
I love the element that the heroine must eventually confront the killer. There is an ultimate, usually bloody, showdown. After the movie, I sigh with relief that it is over and check under my bed and in the closet.
I think that might be what I like about the movies. Sure, you are taken on an emotional roller-coaster, but eventually the fear goes away. Either the dragon is slayed or the heroine is eaten, but the movie is over.
The fear ends with scary movies, and upon reflection, I start to feel kind of silly about being afraid. I mean really, if I hear a creepy noise coming from a basement and all the lights are out, am I going to check it out in my skimpy nightgown? For that matter, I do not even have a basement. If any doll I own comes alive, I am grabbing a pair of scissors and cutting off arms and legs. Also, I will never grab a butcher knife; I am grabbing my fully charged cellphone and an iron frying pan.
The movies make me laugh because they are so good at making me afraid of the ridiculous. I end up fearing the most unlikely things. I get nervous in the woods because a crazed woodsman might chop me into pieces, but I am not fearful of the gunshots I can hear from Central City only a few blocks away? I think the movies help us escape what really frightens us.
Somehow, shooting zombies seems much simpler than figuring out how to stretch a budget when one is unemployed. Freddy Kruger is pretty scary until you think about your family member’s health. Frankly, vampires are much more welcome than dealing with sexism or racism or bigotry.
These fears are real, and just like what the heroine must do, so must we. We must confront those fears. We must look them straight in the eye. We must pick up our frying pans (because I know better than to grab a knife), and we attack that fear. We cannot cower in the corner anymore. Sure, we might not win, but we will not be afraid.
I am not sure how we actually conquer these fears, these realities, but at least we know that we are not alone in the dark. There are others who have walked and fought before us. There are those who will walk and fight after us. And there is one who walks and fights with us, giving us the strength we need for the moment. That one also gives us light to see the fear for what it really is.
We see in that light that whatever our fear is: unemployment, economic hardship, bigotry, violence can only control us because we believe that it is more powerful than us. In the light, we see that fear’s power is an illusion, and our weakness in the face of that fear is also an illusion. We are not really weak, and we are never alone.
Still, I think that I will curl up on my couch and turn on a few scary movies. Somehow, I would much rather deal with a vampire or Jason than with those real monsters.