Horror media: what scares you? What doesn't?

Simple question, really. What scares you in horror? What doesn’t? Why?

What scares me:
-Dark hallways/forests/other creepy places
-Weird geometry, or strange configurations in houses–basically, the bread and butter of the book House of Leaves.
-NOT showing the monster
-Disembodied sounds from nowhere

Basically, anything subtle, but still off-kilter or menacing. Probably has a lot to do with the nothing is scarier trope. Atmosphere is everything, and your imagination can come up with far scarier things than any author or filmmaker can.

What doesn’t scare me:
-Slashers with a hankering for horny teens

Simply put, these things simply don’t leave anything to the imagination. I once read a classic horror short story that had a fantastic build-up–a dark tower, a recurring dream, a grave, something evil looming, and other creepy, awesome stuff–then at the very end, the “evil” went “and now I’m going to suck your blood!” or something, and I wanted to punch my computer. All that build-up for a stupid vampire? You suck, story.

Nothing supernatural scares me, and too much “mood” just bores me (I especially find thunderstorms annoying).

What I find scary is real, human monsters. Genuine psychopaths. Joe Pesci in Goodfells, Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting, Ralph Fiennes in Schindler’s List, Michael Madsen in Reservoir Dogs. Those are the monsters that are scary to me because those are the monsters who really exist.

Generally the only thing that scares me is a sudden and unexpected appearance of something. Doesn’t even have to be “the monster” just the “OH, didn’t see that one coming”!

I guess, thinking on it now, it’s more of a “what startles me” than what scares me.

The whole slasher movie genre only bores me or grosses me out. Though I do remember the original Nightmare on Elm Street terrifying me (I was 20 something, what can I say?)

Gore doesn’t scare me. Movies like Saw are gross in an entertaining way, but that’s not the same thing.

Ghosts are scary, darkness is scary, old things are scary (aghhh, a photo of Madonna!!), jump cuts (the big WINONA! moment in Black Swan made me jump out my seat), subtle little movements, psychological trauma, disembodied legs and arms and things like that, all scary. Things that have too many or too few eyes - that is horror right there. For me, anyway.

Very little scares me.

Your typical j-horror - Ring, Ju-On, Chakushin Ari - has a better time of it - primarily due to the fact that, while there is a ghost involved they’re not really the danger, but rather an avatar of an implacable curse, which will get you no matter what - they can be appeased (in Ring and Chakushin Ari, in any case), but that will only stop the spread, you can’t save yourself, once you’re marked*. The inevitability, unavoidability…that gets me, in a very primal place. Something one can, theoretically, avoid (without becoming a killer oneself*) isn’t that scary to me (in fiction - IRL, Jason would terrify me every bit as much as Kayako). Especially as in those movies, when getting marked doesn’t actually involve doing anything wrong - watching a video, or answering your phone, or visiting a house you’re considering buying - these are things that should not get you killed!

  • Ring and Chakushin Ari both allow you to pass the curse to someone else (at least as of the second movie in the latter series) or take the hit in someone else’s place, but it’ll damn well get someone.

Subtle wrongness is also good for creeping me out. And corner-of-the-eye glimpses of things. Corner-of-the-eye glimpses of subtle wrongness may be taking things too far, though.

There’s a fine line between the kind of jump scares that don’t bother me beyond a brief startle, and the sort of brief appearance or rapid change that does, though I couldn’t put my finger on just where it lies. It’s an ‘I know it when I see it’ thing.

Slow killing. I mean when a knife slowly enters someone(like that dude in Saving Private Ryan). Stuff like that.

Anyone’s eye getting stabbed. Eyes getting hurt just freaks me out.

Severe facial deformities.

No one thing really scares me, although putting a sympathetic character, especially a little kid, in danger can heighten my feeling of suspense and sometimes it will disturb me. Likewise sexual assaults or the threat thereof. And while I’m not a particularly huge fan of Japanese horror, the best (or worse) of these films can creep me out a bit–a couple have freaky hair scenes that get to me for reasons I don’t understand, and the person in the bag in *Audition *was pretty weird. And rats. Even though I don’t have a real-life rodent phobia, movie rats occasionally bother me. And maybe chainsaws. And characters finding weird things in bed with them (snakes, dead lovers, horse heads). Finally, weirdly controted beings (often demon possessed humans) make me strongly want to look away even though I can’t or won’t. Finally, this erstwhile Catholic boy finds that the inversion of holy symbols and the desecration of holy places sometimes makes him slightly uneasy. Also, I would prefer not to watch torture involving eyes, teeth, or genitals.

Shit popping out startles me, as in I jump, but I don’t think I’m actually frightened when it happens. Graphic depictions of torture make me look away, but that’s more because I’m fucking grossed out than afraid.

A lot of people give it flak, but the most frightened I’ve ever been in my life was in the theater watching the first Paranormal Activity. You never even see the fucking monster. It’s dark and you can’t see the demon but you know it’s there, right in the room with the couple. That’s fucking terrifying.

So I guess the thing that frightens me most is knowing the scary thing is there but not being able to see it.

I am incapable of taking demons seriously. You might as wll try to scare me with Skeletor.

When a ghost/demon/ghoul is standing over there, and then is instantaneously right IN YOUR FACE - that gets me every time, especially when Japanese ghost-girls do it. You may call me a wimp. I don’t care. I even jumped when they did that in “Ghost Whisperer” :stuck_out_tongue:

Second on Paranormal Activity. That’s one of the only “scary” movies I’ve ever seen that got it entirely right if the goal is to truly scare. The last minute or so excluded, but we can just pretend that part doesn’t exist.

People will give you flak for saying that though because there was an inevitable backlash against the outlandish claims that were made about the film.

What happened is that someone noticed this little independent film was actually scarier that 99% of what was in the mainstream, and that response was turned into the marketing campaign to get the film a wide release. This somehow that turned into “OMG this is the scariest thing of all time ur totally gonna crap ur pants”. And all the cool people of the internet of course retaliated accordingly when the movie didn’t live up to that hype. So it’s now crap as far as most people are concerned.

But yea that demonic sort of thing scares me when presented in that way, “The Exorcist” being the closest mainstream film to do so. I have a secular worldview in real life, but there’s something about that kind of mythology that is so implanted in us that it is still effective.

I like horror movies quite a lot, but almost none of them actually scare me. Paranormal Activity sure the hell didn’t.

The closest things come to scary is if there’s an atmosphere of decay as one of the themes. The wrongness of that in movies like The Abandoned and Silent Hill are creepy, and I really like that.

Stephen King’s Misery, Gerald’s Game, the non magic parts of Rose Madder. Vampires? not a bit, but something that could actually happen, hell yes. People that are nuts are freaking scary as hell. Norman Bates … that lonely motel with a maniac and his mother, :eek:

I’m old and jaded now, but when I was about 22 and went down to Hollywood and stood in line for 3 hours to see The Exorcist the night it opened, I’ll admit it scared the bejeebers out of me and nearly everyone I knew at the time. People were fainting. Ambulances were taking people away. Now I watch it again and wonder what all the fuss was about.

The wave in Deep Impact did make me a trifle uncomfortable because it’s the stuff of my nightmares. The rest of what they call horror today, not so much.

I absolutely love horror movies but not much actually scares me. I get some good jumps out of certain things but that’s not a “scare”. It’s a “startle”.

What DOES scare me though, really friggen scares me.

Creepy monotone laughter (Evil Dead I believe).
Children singing.
The elevator scene from the original The Eye.
Dolls (not Child’s Play any more though, not for at least 20 years now).

Those are the only ones I can think of at the moment.

Internal horror. An external threat is bad but there’s always a line between you and the threat. What I find really scary is when the threat is inside you and is manipulating your mind. In The Shining for example, I thought that what the hotel was doing to Jack was scarier than what it was doing to Danny and Wendy.

Not much anymore. I believe I talked about this in a thread a year or two ago: there’s a certain age where we can get scared. After that age, nothing can scare us, or nothing can scare us as much as it used to. I believe the last time I was scared was something like 1979 or so.

But, I guess what scares me now is what scares everyone, average criminals with a drug habit to support.

I find the Pantomime, “Behind YOU!” thing scary.

I.E. the main protagonists are unaware of something evil behind them.

A very good scene in Severance shows two main characters discussing leaving a badly inured friend behind because they are being murdered one by one, and he will slow them down.

While they’re talking you see the person in question (comatose from medication for his pain) being silently dragged away by one of the mystery killers.

Chilling aint in it.

Agreed. Would have been better had the boyfriend ran downstairs at the end, then LONG silence… then one last big roar and then cut to credits.

So you might have been scared if they’d simply presented the movie as-is but cut out all the stuff with the psychic and stuff?