Nightmare Fuel: A Musing

Confetti is not shy about wanting to avoid scares or anything in her entertainment that might make her uncomfortable.  She doesn’t do horror if she can help it.  When something she wouldn’t like might happen in a movie or tv show, she is fine skipping right past it, checking the internet for spoilers, or even sometimes deciding she doesn’t need to finish the show.  When she and Chaos are reading a book together, she’ll let him finish a questionable section by himself or read ahead to check if the book continues to be Confetti-appropriate.  Confetti has a low threshold for horror and so she sees no reason to subject herself to it for “fun.”

Meanwhile there is Chaos. Does he like horror?  Verdict is still out on that one, but he definitely doesn’t know how to say no.  As a way too young child, he watched countless horror movies with his cousins.  Sometimes he liked them, other times they scared him, and often they left him not fully  understanding what he saw. Whatever the end result, the scares never stopped coming.  

Growing up, Chaos and his sister used to watch scary movies late at night or check out the latest offering at the theaters.  For the longest time, Chaos said he watched those movies and paid attention to new releases because they were a genre his sister loved.  He did it for her.  At some point though, he had to admit, he has a thirst for terror.  Maybe it isn’t an overwhelming need that needs to be sated, but a small tickle that whispers to be scratched.

Throughout the year, Chaos gets that occasional itch for the spooky and scary.  He’ll squeeze in the occasional movie or read a book that’s a bit more twisted than his usual fare.  The trailer something chilling catches his eye.  As Halloween approaches, he begins to fall for his one true seasonal draw.  Winter doesn’t make him want to sing Christmas songs, Summer doesn’t automatically draw him to the beach, and Spring doesn’t fill him with the need to clean the clutter, but Fall gets Chaos craving a bit more fright in his life. 

Chaos will start a book of scary stories at midnight.  He’ll wait until Confetti goes off to bed to start a horror movie alone in the dark.  The haunted houses and events go up in October, and Chaos wants to go.  He starts seeking out scary movies and tales that he may have missed during the year.  The time of year just feels right for a bit more terror.  How can he say no to that?

Again, Chaos is not a man without fear.  There are plenty of times when both books and movies have caused him to ask himself, “why am I reading/watching this?”  The Descent made him wary of turning off the lights.  Reading The Exorcist and watching Hereditary both had him questioning if maybe they were getting a bit too intense or maybe even evil to continue.  Salem’s Lot had him feeling extremely uneasy and sad during the loss of a baby scene.  As a kid, Chaos hated Chucky from Child’s Play and he still doesn’t trust most dolls.  The list of shows, movies, and books that have affected Chaos goes on and on.  And yet, he goes on with his peeps into the dreadful.

No matter the time of year, Chaos’ very active imagination often conjures up ghosts, ghouls, and other dangers that could be waiting in the dark.  His mind creates things that could be outside at night or up in the attic.  What if this, and what if that?  Would it be terrible if?  How awful would…?  So why does he enjoy adding nightmare fuel to only make things worse?  He may not be cowering in a corner, but he does get that feeling of unease that those in one of those horror stories must get as they enter the haunted house or the beast’s lair.

Honestly, he doesn’t have a complete or logical answer.  Something deep down just draws him to these fictional portrayals of doom and death.  Horror can entertain, fascinate, frighten, and thrill.  It makes one feel alive as they fear for their life.  

Maybe it’s the chance to experience danger in a safe way.  Even when he finds something a bit upsetting or scary, he can always remind himself it’s fake.  No one is actually being hurt.  No one is actually suffering.  Nothing is really out there waiting for him. Even when it sets off emotions within him, there is the comfort of it all being phony.  These are scares with some control.  Whether Chaos does it or not: lights can be turned on, company can be sought, books can be put down, movies can be paused, timeouts can be called.  It’s one of the safest ways to approach danger*.

*Much better than all the real dangers and dreadful things the world has to offer.

So, if you’re like Chaos, we hope that you find your chills and thrills in a scary but safe way this season.  Feel free to tell us how you find your scares, because Chaos is always looking for another good book or movie to frighten himself with.

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