With Halloween just around the corner, we’re going all out in our exploration of the horror genre this October! While every horror film fan will have a different reason for their love of scary films, I’ve interviewed one fan, 22 year old Emma Swift, and found out a bit about her enjoyment of the genre!
L: Hi Emma, and welcome to Roobla!
L: As you know, today we’re going to talk a bit about horror films, so first thing’s first, would you class yourself as a horror film fan?
E: Yes, absolutely.
L: Great! Is this a recent discovery, or have you watched these sorts of films for a while?
E: Pretty much my whole life! I grew up in a house with a mum who loves ghost stories, and sharing a room with my sister, who is seven years older, and who has always been obsessed with scary films, so it was bound to happen!
L: So you were introduced to horror films from quite a young age then?
E: Yes, Laura, my sister, was always watching horror films so I started seeing bits and pieces of different scary films from primary school age, so I think that probably got me intrigued. And also got me used to seeing these sorts of films.
L: So do you think seeing scary films as a child desensitised you to that sort of thing?
E: I never really watched inappropriately scary films for my age, but like I said, I suppose growing up in that environment did get me used to the feeling you get when you watch a particularly scary film! So having got used to that quite young, watching horror films as I got older wasn’t quite as shocking as it might be to someone who was completely shielded from that sort of film as a child. Don’t get me wrong, I still get frightened by horror films, but the sensation of deliberately watching something that makes you feel that way isn’t something that makes me uncomfortable.
L: I think that may be where my problem with horror films stems from – I deliberately never watched horror films growing up, and I’m still avoiding them at all costs at 22! What is one of your earliest, or most significant memories, of a horror film from your childhood?
E: There are so many! One that particularly stands out though was a film called Lady in White. That film had a really huge impact on me! If I watched it now that might be embarrassing since I think it’s partly classed as a children’s film [this statement was proved wrong when we watched the frightening trailer for this movie on YouTube] but it genuinely terrified me! The little boy in the film gets locked in a cupboard in school on Halloween when everyone else has gone home, and he sees a vision of a little girl getting murdered. It’s all very ghostly, but I remember being so scared of it that when Halloween came around I rushed to be the first one out of the classroom in school and get out of the building before I could get locked in one of the cupboards!
L: Did that scared feeling put you off watching other horror films for a while?
E: No, not really. It was strange, but it was the start of that association of horror films, and the thrill of being frightened. The emotions you go through can be such a strange mixture – you’re terrified, but at the same time there’s something weirdly enjoyable about it. With that film I also really liked the storyline – the little boy ends up reuniting the little girl ghost with the ghost of her mother, who committed suicide after she had been killed. While it is a horror movie, I really like that sort of idea. And as I said, my mum has always been a big fan of ghost stories, so it was her who got me into watching and reading ghost stories when I was younger. Another horror film which really affected me, but in a different way, was Stephen King’s It. Even now I can’t even watch the opening credits of that film, and it’s definitely affected the way I react to clowns. While Lady in White scared me in a way that made me interested to watch more horror films, It definitely didn’t!
L: I think that sort of pleasurable fear is the reason behind a lot of people’s enjoyment of horror movies – some people like to push themselves to see how much they can handle! Do you have limits when it comes to these kinds of films? Are there some types of horror film that you deliberately don’t watch?
E: Yes, definitely, I am absolutely not a fan of modern slasher-horror films, like the Saw series. When it’s just torture, rather than any sort of deeper storyline, I won’t watch it. There’s something too uncomfortable about watching someone be cut up on screen for no reason.
L: I couldn’t agree more. What about some of the other modern horror style movies, like Paranormal Activity?
E: Something like Paranormal Activity, for me, ties in more closely with the older style movies about ghosts and vampires and that sort of thing. While you know that what’s happening on screen isn’t actually real, the film taps into all those little natural fears that you have – creaky floorboards, doors closing by themselves, noises you can’t explain… and when it’s set in someone’s house, that makes it even more uncomfortably close to home. These are the kinds of things you can’t help thinking about in your own house after you’ve watched the film, and I sort of like that. That kind of scary is weirdly enjoyable, whereas torture films are just unnecessarily traumatic to watch. I’m more likely to feel sick watching something like that than feel any sort of thrill.
L: If someone asked you to describe exactly what you feel like when watching a horror movie, how would you describe it?
E: I suppose there’s a sort of suffocating feeling connected to watching a horror film. You are constantly on the edge of your seat waiting for someone to get away to safety, or to kill the murderer, or whatever the storyline is asking for. So you don’t really get too emotionally attached to any of the characters, because in a horror film you know there’s a good chance that the character is going to die. Something like Scream, I really like because it plays around with all the typical horror movie conventions, and the things you always expect to happen in these sorts of films are changed up in different ways.
L: Are there any films you think take that sort of convention-shifting too far?
E: One film I have never watched to the end, but I plan to try and get through some day is Funny Games, and I think it goes too far in terms of that sort of thing. The ‘bad guys’ are so in control of the film that they are even able to rewind a sequence of the film when one of them has been killed and say ‘that’s not what happens’, and regain complete control of the situation. I think that maybe takes the suffocating feeling of horror films a bit too far!
L: Finally, tell us what your top 3 horror movies of all time are? In no particular order!
E: That’s difficult! I’m going to say Scream, as I said earlier on I really like the way it plays around with the horror film conventions. Second I’ll say The Shining, and third, I would have to go for Halloween – the original Halloween, not any of the seven follow ups!
L: Great choices! Thank you so much for talking to us Emma.
E: You’re welcome!