Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Horror for Wusses

Warning: this rant contains spoilers for Paranormal Activity and The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters.

When I'm in charge around here, people who are complete wusses will no longer be allowed to recommend "scary" books or movies. Why? Because their picks oughtn't scare anyone who doesn't sleep with a nightlight on. As to why I'm het up about this all of the sudden, I recently saw the movie and read the book listed above.

Let's take on Paranormal Activity first. I want to know what people in the trailer were watching, because it couldn't have been this movie. You ever watch that show ghost hunters or its clones, and sit through people making a fuss about a loud noise or two, and maybe a book falling off a shelf? This movie exactly like that. Except it also contains two fairly unlikable characters who swear a lot, and forbid each other from doing things. If you think a moving sheet or footprints in flour are scary, you're in for a treat. Otherwise, you'll probably think the movie is lame too.

Then there's The Little Stranger. A book that is almost 500 pages long and nothing happens. Ever. I'm going to spoil this for you right now and spare you the pain of reading it: the so-called scariest parts of the book - according to people who actually liked the book, mind you - involve the terror of moving a cabinet and discovering that someone wrote on a wall (gasp!) and another scene where a shadowy figure runs up and down a hallway (covers eyes). Don't you feel a thrill of fear reading about that? You won't after suffering through the other 460 pages of descriptions about why living in a decaying mansion sucks and why a homely girl who won't be loved by anyone else not putting out for you sucks, either. This is the tamest, most tepid, most tedious ghost story I have ever read...considering I have an English education degree and have read lots of boring books, that's saying a lot. I'm angrier about it than the movie, because the book took a lot longer than two hours to read.

So, if you recommend either of these works, you're going on my secret list of people to ignore recommendations from. You'll be joining people who think House of Leaves was a horror novel, and those who wet themselves with fright while watching The Ring or The Grudge. That is all.

"Who's getting scared? Who's getting scared now?" - Imogen Heap, Getting Scared

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