Students are creepin’ it real about horror films

Check out some of the scariest horror movies to watch during this fall season. Photo by Matt Siciliano-Salazar | The Signal

Gore, the psychological, paranormal and supernatural all center around one thing — fear.

Fear is an innate emotion so central to life that an entire month and film genre are dedicated to eliciting the feeling. 

Junior Jessica Redding is a film major who was once a self-described “scaredy-cat,” but after watching “The Conjuring,” became a fan of the world of horror. 

Redding describes “The Witch” as the film that “really, truly unnerved me.”

“I couldn’t take my eyes from the screen,” she said. “It just felt so real, like not even a movie. Looking back, I’m really just fascinated by it.”

“The Witch” follows a Puritan family living on a rural farm. When their baby disappears into the woods, evil forces prey upon them.

The movie was scary for Redding because of the slow-burn storyline that left her hanging on each movement. Redding enjoys suspenseful horror films when they don’t follow a predictable structure.

Junior Carter Dammann generally finds scary movies unrealistic, and most plotlines lead to him calling “B.S.”

One story, though, got into his head. “The Blair Witch Project” has realistic, terrifying elements that fuel nightmares. 

The movie is about three film students who disappeared, telling the story through their camera’s perspective. The movie helped pioneer the found-footage genre, and the successful “Paranormal Activity” franchise later followed its structure. One scene shows the students finding bloody teeth outside their tent, and the image is etched into Dammann’s brain. 

“The worst thing about getting scared is [the feeling] when you’re watching a movie at 3 a.m., and you can’t sleep afterward because you keep dreaming about it,” he said. “The best part is that it hypes you up, and you get your adrenaline pumping.”

Blood, specifically, gives Dammann the creeps, and he can’t stomach gory films. Former Panther Annabel Joyner likes horror films, favoring psychological storylines over blood and gore. 

“Psychologically scary [movies are the] only ones that really scare me,” Joyner said. “I just don’t dig gore because I think it’s really gross, and it keeps me up thinking about it.” 

Her favorite horror movie is “A Cure for Wellness,” which depicts a man who visits a remote “wellness center.” The center is a front for medical experiments, and he soon finds himself held prisoner. 

The paranormal subgenre is entirely off the table for Joyner. Storylines with demons, possession and exorcisms are not an option, as she says they mess with her “spirit.” She remembers watching “The Exorcist” at a middle school slumber party and leaving the room partway through.

Freshman Ayomikun Lasile is a film major, studying online while staying at home in Nigeria due to pandemic restrictions. Like Joyner, Lasile avoids any movies with spirits or demons and describes herself as “horror shy.” 

Halloween is celebrated mainly in the U.S., and Lasile doesn’t understand why the fear-based holiday appeals to Americans. 

“I don’t mean this in a terrible way, but Americans are crazy,” she said. “I think it’s fun, yes, but it’s more crazy than fun.”

Redding, an adamant fan of the season, views horror differently.

“Halloween is this awesome time where we can all collectively watch a movie [that scares us] and … we all prove that we’re human,” she said.