Mailbag: June 6, 2016

Welcome back to the HW Mailbag.  Only one question this week, but it’s a good one.

Current debate that’s going on at work…What’s scarier, ghosts/paranormal or slashers/killers and why?  Your thoughts? – @kcguru23

@kcguru23 works at a hotel and they have these debates during slow moments.  I wouldn’t mind working in a place like that.  Instead, I’ll just sit alone in my office, telling ghost stories to myself.  As it turns out, my scenario is still more interesting than The Innkeepers.

This question comes down to personal preference/beliefs.  I consider myself a believer in the paranormal, with a healthy helping of skepticism.  That is to say that I believe in ghosts, but, I don’t think they’re as prevalent as the wide array of ghost hunting shows would have us believe.

I also believe that there are malevolent spirits.  I’ve heard enough stories from people who have visited Waverly Hills Sanatorium if nothing else.

Still, ghosts/paranormal movies have never really scared me.  Those kinds of movies can be creepy, but they never really stick with me.  Recent installments in this genre seem more intent on hitting the viewer with jump scares more than anything else.  If there’s anything that screams “fleeting scares” more than movies crawling with jump scares, I don’t know about it.  There is such a thing as a well-done jump scare (the sheet flying off the clothesline in The Conjuring is a recent example), but far too many of them just seem cheap and lazy.

That’s not to say that all paranormal movies are bad, I just tend not to find them very frightening.

So, for this debate, I’ll side with slashers/killers.  I grant you that most things I just said about paranormal movies tend to hold true for slashers: they’re not very scary and like to rely on jump scares.  More recent movies like the “fake jump scare” jump scare, which I’m not a big fan of.

I’m siding with this because well-done movies about killers tend to get under my skin.  When I think of some of the most unnverving movies I’ve ever seen – the ones that really grabbed hold of me and left me looking over my shoulder for weeks – I think of movies about serial killers.  The Poughkeepsie Tapes.  Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.  Even Zodiac to some degree, and that wasn’t even really that scary.

It’s something real.  Something I feel could actually happen to me.  I don’t necessarily expect a killer will be hiding in my garage, but I could always be wrong.  On the other side, I’ve been living in the same house for almost 10 years and have witnessed exactly zero paranormal events.  No violent deaths have occurred here, and it’s not built on an old burial ground.  I have no fear of ghosts in my day-to-day life.  But killers could be anywhere, man.  Just waiting to strike.  Maybe one of them has been living in my attic for a couple months, just hanging out until the time is right.  I’ll never know until it’s too late, which is why I have various weapons stashed in random places in my house.  YOU HEAR THAT KILLER IN THE ATTIC?  I have weapons that you don’t know about, and they’re EVERYWHERE.  I may not have much training, but I can swing wildly with the best of them.  Find another filthy attic to call your home.

The concept of the home invasion subgenre scares me, but I’ve yet to come across one that has really stuck with me.  The first 45 minutes of The Strangers was pretty cool, but it all just kind of fell apart.  I recently watched Hush – which I really liked – but it didn’t really affect me.  The idea that someone could randomly break into my house and torture/kill me is terrifying, but I’ve yet to see a movie that has really been able to harness that terror.

A quick story about serial killer movies.
As we all know, Zodiac was based on a true story.  The Zodiac Killer was an actual killer who was never caught.  Still, the murders took place in California in the late 60s.  After watching Zodiac – again, not really a scary movie – I checked my garage to make sure he wasn’t hiding out in there.
To repeat: I checked my garage to see if The Zodiac Killer – a man who, if still alive, would likely be well into his seventies – was hiding in there.  I live in Kentucky and have a very loud garage door.  There is no reason he would be in there, but I just had to check.

A view from my garage

In closing, I’ll roll with slashers/killers over ghosts/paranormal, and it’s not particularly close.

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