What Scares Us

As Halloween approaches, I’ve gone back and watched several classic horror films—notably, the Halloween series. While interesting to see how horror films have changed in the past decades, I was not truly scared by anything occurring on-screen. I didn’t go to bed worrying there would be a murderer in my closet; I didn’t double-check the locks to make sure no homicidal maniacs could get in undisturbed. Hell, I even left one leg out from under the covers, even though that guarantees a monster will ooze out from under the bed to devour it!

Americans aren’t as scared of the world as they used to be. We’ve all been desensitized. Off-key piano chords or a ghost jumping out from a wardrobe don’t have the same effect on us as those same tactics did forty years ago. People these days are more worried about healthcare, police brutality and Trump actually getting enough votes to become President!

So I thought: if I were a filmmaker, what could I use that would be truly scary? Something that everyone who went to the theater would be screaming about and cause them to have mental issues after viewing? Based on a study done in 2014, here is a list of things Americans fear:

  • Public Speaking
  • Heights
  • Bugs, snakes,and other animals
  • Drowning
  • Blood, needles
  • Tight, confined spaces
  • Flying
  • Strangers
  • Zombies
  • Darkness
  • Clowns
  • Ghosts

Very few of these have justly been expressed in horror movies to date, so I now pitch the scariest film of all time:

The film opens at the airport. An attractive, single woman is boarding by herself, having just recently broken up with her boyfriend who was cheating on her with her best girlfriends (so now she is lonely and heartbroken, too).

She boards the plane (FLYING), and is seated in the middle seat (TIGHT, CONFINED SPACES) between two attractive men with foreign accents (STRANGERS). As the plane takes off (HEIGHTS), the men tell her more about themselves; one is a CLOWN in a travelling circus, while the other works for the Red Cross and is very pushy in his attempts to get her to become a blood donor (BLOOD, NEEDLES)! As they both begin to ask for more and more donations (CHARITIES), our protagonist excuses herself to go to the restroom.

In the very small (TIGHT, CONFINED SPACES) airplane bathroom, we see a flashback to a young girl, playing by the pool while her mother (MOTHERS) looks on. Suddenly, a traveling door-to-door vacuum salesman (STRANGERS) comes to the door, and the mother goes to talk to him. The girl is on her own, and she can’t seem to remember how to swim! She sinks to the bottom of the deep end…(DROWNING)

She awakens and realizes she must have dozed off in the airplane bathroom (ROOFIES). She quickly composes herself and walks out. She opens the door to discover all the lights are off (DARKNESS). She thinks that it must be dark outside the plane, and the lights have been turned off so others can sleep (INSOMNIA). She begins to see shapes moving about (GHOSTS), and thinks it is just her eyes adjusting to the DARK, as well as other passengers moving about. She struggles to get to her seat.

She gets to her middle seat, only to discover the two men are now ZOMBIES! She fights them off, and now realizes the entire plane is full of ZOMBIES! She gets to the divider between first class and coach, where the flight attendants are huddled scared. They tell her that the only way to stop the ZOMBIES is to use the on board microphone and recite the ancient incantation they accidentally used to summon them; but the trick is, she has to do it with all the ZOMBIES watching her! (PUBLIC SPEAKING!) She gathers her courage, digs deep, and reaches for the microphone. Oh, but did we forget to mention the microphone cord is now a COBRA and the mouthpiece is COVERED IN BUGS and the plane is now just ONE GIANT ALBINO RAT?!  Our heroine no longer cares! She screams, grabs for the microphone and recites the incantation!

She awakens back in her middle seat between the two foreign men, cheerful and talkative as ever, with the sun shining bright outside. All the people from her dream are there, and nothing bad has happened. She reaches into her purse, pulls out her phone, and realizes SHE JUST HAD THAT CRAZY DREAM BECAUSE THERE IS NO FREE WIFI ON THE PLANE!!!!!!!

Credits.

See? Kids these days aren’t scared anymore. Only by threat of taking away their internet and electronic gadgets can we get a rise out of them. There are plenty more sequels where this movie comes from. I’m thinking a cinematic universe combining Apple, Samsung, Google—hell, we might as well get a Microsoft straight-to-HD DVD version in there somewhere. Enjoy it while it lasts, America, because one day you might wake up, and your cell phone signal will only be two-and-a-half bars…

T.M. Scholtes

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