How to Survive a Haunted House — Revisited

So in time for Halloween, I thought I would re-run an entry from January 26, 2014 that hopefully will save everyone a lot of heartache should they ever find themselves living with a less than friendly spirit.  You’re welcome. 

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Everybody already knows, and I am not ashamed to admit, that I love horror movies. Always have and always will.  The only other film genre that has a chance at being my #1 is this new (and much appreciated) wave of comic book inspired extravaganzas that have been inundating the screens for the past decade or so.  While I have a deep passion for horror movies it’s been quite a while since I’ve been truly creeped out by one. Outside of the original The Exorcist I honestly can’t recall a film that has sent that delicious chill up my spine, made my heart race, or gotten the hairs on my arms to stand on end.

Instead of true thrills and chills, it seems like the horror movies nowadays depend solely on what I call the “surprise factor” to scare their audiences.  As in, something suddenly jumps into or out of the scene or a door slams or a piece of furniture falls over with a loud bang. To me that’s a cheap scare. I much prefer the slow creepy build-up and truly “scary” maneuvers of the masters of horror.

I’m not complaining because I still do find the latest movies entertaining in their own right, just never truly hitting the mark as far as making me have to sleep with the lights on.  What does tend to happen though is that instead of getting goose bumps I end up shaking my head at the rampant stupidity that many of the main characters always seem to exhibit. Paranormal Activity is a perfect example of moronicness (yes, I’m aware that is not a real word) gone awry.

(Side note: I do understand that the creators of these movies have to put the characters in certain situations to make the action move forward and sometimes not acting like an idiot would be boring, but please allow me to remain on my soapbox a little bit longer.)

So, Paranormal Activity. Decent movie, a little dated I know, but I liked it — I just don’t get the logic behind it. If you think ghosts are hunkered down in your spot, why the hell would you go around the house trying to piss them off? It makes no sense. I can barely get a mouse to leave my kitchen. What chance does someone have of driving away a spirit from another dimension? Most people are terrified at the idea of living in a haunted house (a big reason why these movies are so successful, it’s a universal feeling), but think about it; as long as you just did your normal stuff, make breakfast, tidy up, mow the lawn, you’d probably be alright. Think of the ghost as a roommate. You might not like him or her, but suck it up.

I fully understand the natural instinct to guard your space. If I moved into a new place and found out it was haunted, I probably wouldn’t just shrug my shoulders and tell myself that these things just sort of happen sometimes.  I’d freak out some.  Don’t get me wrong, I’d have a ball.  But in a freaked out sort of way.  It’s totally justifiable to have a meltdown upon learning the news you’ve been duped into a haunted abode…at least for a little while.  Sure, you could take the righteous indignation attitude, as you would with any intruder, and stomp around with a baseball bat, yelling insults at Mr. or Mrs. Ghost to get them to show themselves.  Although seriously….WHY would you want them to show themselves!? I mean think about it!  That never ends well.  So just know that if and when this happens, chances are the ghost is going to be slightly upset at such disrespect and retaliation is to be expected.  In fact, what other reaction would you really expect to achieve?

I don’t have much face-to-face experience with an angry ghost but I can only assume whatever it has in mind to do, it’s going to be something I’m clearly and gloriously unprepared to handle. Which is what I want the characters in these movies to consider when they’re throwing their “show yourself” tantrums. It might be better just to let the ghost win right off the bat.  Let them have the house.  But if you do decide to stick around and share the place with Casper or say….a demon from Hell, just don’t take any tips from the Paranormal Activity’s resident genius Micah. The rule is simple: Don’t piss off the ghost. If you do, well, have fun in in the afterlife.

8 thoughts on “How to Survive a Haunted House — Revisited

  1. I’ve memorized it and almost think it would be good to get it tattooed on my arm, but it’s short, so I think I’ve got it. Important rule. Don’t piss off the ghost.

  2. Ah, but I think this was one of the things I liked about Paranormal Activity (and I liked it a lot)–I would probably have done precisely the same thing as Micah. My scepticism would not have allowed me to do anything else. I’d have just kept trying to provoke whatever it was to do more fascinating things, always secure in my own scepticism that this was all a bit of an interesting laugh. And definitely (and I take no pride in this) I’d have done the whole manly protector thing. I may have to call electricians in to wire a plug, but I would certainly have insisted on sorting out a resident demon by myself. Assuming my girlfriend didn’t end up getting possessed and killing me, imagine how eternally impressed with me she would be…

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