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The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

The Student News Site of University of California - San Diego

The UCSD Guardian

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How to Survive Horror Movies


I’d like to think of myself as a pretty independent person.

I don’t need anyone to help me with laundry. I make my bed every morning. I make sure most of my shoes make it onto my shoe rack and my trash is always taken out before it starts to overflow. Sure, I may need to look up a tutorial on how to change a tire and will probably always call my mom when I need relationship help (mostly because she loves to listen to the drama), but the one thing I can’t do alone — the one thing I would choose to never do alone — is watch a horror movie.

I have what some would say to be an “overactive imagination.” That, mixed with minimal anxiety and irrationality can create a less than optimal horror watching experience. On Halloween last year I was forced to watch the original 1996 “Scream” movie and I remember not being able to sleep with the lights off for a few days. Even “A Quiet Place” had me cowering in total fear until my friends told me it was okay to look at the screen again. 

With Halloween coming up, I can already tell I will be succumbing to watching one too many screamer films, so while I’ll never truly be able to enjoy the thriller genius of Stephen King or Jordan Peele, I can say that I’ve learned a few helpful tips and tricks to survive watching a horror movie. 

  1. Don’t

Of course, the easiest way to not absolutely traumatize yourself with kidnappers, murderers, demons, and dolls that come to life is to simply omit all encounters with them in the first place. As we all (hopefully) know, the choice to watch this movie is our own, so if you know you’ll end up peeing your seat or having absolutely terrifying nightmares, your best chance is to just avoid it all together.

  1. Go with people you LOVE

Although it would be awesome to end my list of tips after number one, we all know that saying no is simply not an option if you have horror-loving friends. If option one fails (as it most likely will because FOMO and peer pressure love to hear you scream in a crowded theater) your second best option is to go with people who will actually protect you. Recently, I went to UC San Diego’s free showing of “Black Phone” (for those of you who were there at the 9 p.m. showing, I am so sorry you had to see me in a moment of weakness), and even though I closed my eyes for over half the film, I went with people who were fully prepared for me to simply decay in my seat. One of my friends had seen the movie twice already and resolved to drag my head down whenever a jump scare was coming up (thank you, Amanda, I love you). In conclusion, the same people who dragged you to your metaphorical death should also be the ones helping dig your coffin.

  1. Don’t sit alone

This one may seem insignificant, but it’s actually the most criminally underrated survival hack. 

Think about it: you’re in a crowded theater about to watch a movie that you don’t really want to see and you know you’re going to be scared out of your mind. The worst thing that could possibly happen is sitting next to someone you don’t know — someone who doesn’t fit the criteria of tip & trick number two. Even worse, you could be sitting next to an empty chair — a dark abyss of loneliness to remind you that you are alone, or at least not surrounded by those you trust. Sitting between your friends guarantees you safety-cuddles and endless protection from whatever antagonist this horror is about to show you. 

  1. Cover your eyes and ears

Now that you’ve safely made it inside the theater, sitting between your amazing friends that will protect you with their lives, you can officially start… “watching?”

I’ve found that the best way to save yourself from the aftermath of horror movies is to just simply not watch the movie. It becomes plainly obvious when scary things are about to happen, so when you notice the music starting to thin out, the lights beginning to dim, and the main character about to do something that they probably should not be doing, cover your eyes and ears. What I personally like to do is to look at the floor and shove my fingers into my ears, then said besties who are protecting you can let you know when the scare is over and you’re free to look back up at the non-terrifying parts.
Of course, none of us can prevent the onset of nightmares or lack of sleep you might experience after you come home from the theater, but maybe these four tips will help you survive October just a little longer (however, I’d recommend sticking by Tip Number One and just watching “Ratatouille” at home by yourself).

Photo via Felix Mooneeran on Unsplash

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About the Contributor
Maxine Mah, Senior Staff Writer
When she's not writing lifestyle articles, Maxine can be found traversing the deck of UCSD"s Canyonview Aquatics Center or huddled in a corner of Geisel distracting all of her STEM major friends from doing work.
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  • S

    slope unblockedOct 20, 2022 at 12:45 am

    It’s a fun read with the added bonus of a list of horror movies to make your autumn deadly entertaining. If you like horror movies, you’ll like this. Make it a celebration. Read with your friends and mention the movie that was mentioned. Don’t undervalue the importance of the movie list. Use it to properly prepare for Halloween. Make the fall into a bloodbath onscreen.

  • H

    HeewonOct 12, 2022 at 3:12 pm

    Great tips!
    I was doing exactly what it says and it works every time!

  • L

    LucOct 12, 2022 at 2:50 pm

    So awesome