The tag on this shirt is scratchy: and other reasons why I can’t watch scary movies

I can’t stand scary movies. I hate them. And hate is not a word I use lightly.

In fact, I don’t handle ‘adult themes’ of any kind in movies or TV shows. Husband Bill used to think it a cute quirk of mine, until he realised that we would never be able to watch anything other than rom-coms or children’s movies. Never. Ever.

OK, I do try to be brave sometimes. Like the time I agreed to watch Breaking Bad. Friends had raved about it so I thought I’d give it a go. I cooked up a tasty lasagna for dinner and we sat down to watch. Episode 1, bearable. Episode 2, a man’s decomposing body falls through the ceiling. The man’s decomposing body looks a lot like lasagna. Needless to say Bill had to watch the rest of Breaking Bad on his own.

I’ve always wondered how Bill can watch scary movies without batting an eyelid, where I turn into a crying blubbering mess that can’t sleep for days because I’m worried there’s a serial killer under our bed.

I read an interesting article on PsychCentral called Why Some People Love Horror Movies While Others Hate Them that references the work of Glenn Sparks. The following explained it all so clearly:

Specifically, some individuals have a harder time screening out unwanted stimuli in their environment, Sparks said. For instance, they might be hypersensitive to the temperature in a room or the tag on their shirt. These same individuals are more likely to have intense physiological reactions to horror films.

I cut off all the tags from my shirts! And the temperature of rooms is the lead cause of arguments between Bill and me (other than what we would do with a lottery win and whether he should be listening to me instead of watching the cricket.) This PsychCentral article really struck a chord.

When I see this I get drawn into her world. Photo by Anurag Jain -

When I see this I get drawn into the girl’s world. Photo by Anurag Jain –

If Bill and I watch a movie at home, even if it’s something quite tame like Star Trek or a crappy rom-com, I need time to digest the movie afterwards. As soon as the credits begin to roll, Bill changes the channel and begins swearing at the captain of his fantasy football team. How is that possible? I’m still caught up in the moment of the movie, even if it’s the predictable, boring ending that 99% of rom-coms have. I am still feeling pain for the jilted lover, exhileration for the reunited couple, and worry for the pet dog that starred heavily in the opening scenes but seems to have been left at home for the past 3 weeks while the couple chase each other across state. I can’t just let that go and suddenly move onto a football game!

As the PsychCentral article says: I have physiological reactions to films. I get drawn in. My palms sweat, I clench my jaw, I cry, I laugh, I scream. The movie and characters become my world for 130 minutes and my usual self is left behind. But for those thick-skinned people like Bill, he watches the movie and thinks nothing more than ‘well, that was a movie!’

Scary movies simply aren’t for me. I do not want to be drawn into that world of ghosts and ghouls and serial killers.

Even the pic I’ve chosen for this blog post freaks me out. Enjoy it while it lasts; I may very soon need to change it to a picture of a kitten.


Filed under BLOG: The Duchess of Charlestown

5 responses to “The tag on this shirt is scratchy: and other reasons why I can’t watch scary movies

  1. Diana Threlfo

    I’m with you Jessie – give me a feel good movie anytime, but horror? Nope. I absolutely love psychological thrillers though – I guess that’s an aberration of some sort. Your blog has prompted me to consider how immersed I become in what I’m watching, for which I thank you. I think perhaps I fall somewhere on a continuum between Bill and yourself … nowhere near as immersed as you (although I think I may have been when I was younger), but not as thick-skinned as Bill.

    • It’s interesting to think about… ironically I find it easy to get distracted when I’m watching a movie, where Bill shuts everything else out. I thought it would be the other way round… maybe that’s a topic for another day!

  2. So that’s why I can’t watch horror movies, Jessie! I relate to the sweats and even have heart palpitations. I put it down to being traumatised by ‘The Mushroom People’, a Japanese horror movie I watched when I was about 10. I still feel uneasy eating mushrooms. Entertaining post!

  3. Pingback: 200,000 people want to go one-way to Mars: Worst. Idea. Ever. | Jessie Ansons

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