I just watched the scariest movie I’ve ever seen

By Anthony Pietrewicz
April 28, 2021

Horror movies have always fascinated me. I remember being too young to be allowed to watch them but that wouldn’t stop me from trying. The taboo nature of the movies consequently made me more curious and more likely to watch them.

Like most every other kid who’s grown up in the early 2000s, I was afraid of killer dolls, zombies, aliens and anything else remotely supernatural. Actively seeking out these frights as a young boy left me afraid to sleep with the light off on some nights.

On the other hand, I became used to the trends, clichés, gimmicks and plots of the movies. By the time I got to 8th grade, the movies weren’t scary anymore. I knew killer dolls didn’t exist, I knew zombies weren’t coming to eat me and I knew aliens weren’t coming to abduct me. But when those fears diminished as I grew up, another, more realistic one emerged.

Scary“Scary” by decafinata is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

“Based on real-life events,” Those five words became scarier to me than any movie monster. The idea that what I was about to watch had actually happened (or so I am told) was enough to make my blood run cold. I specifically remember watching “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” for the first time.

The movie begins with an eerie narration, telling the audience that what they are about to see is “one of the most bizarre crimes in the annals of American history.” Whether that claim was true or not, it is still haunting. That line instilled the thought in me that stuff like this CAN happen. Horror was no longer ghouls and monsters- it was people and the wickedness that man can commit.

Just last week, I watched a movie that fits that description of “realistic horror.” “The House That Jack Built” is a 2018 psychological horror film that follows the unpleasant life and demise of a serial killer named Jack. This is by far one of the scariest and disturbing movies I have seen.

I think what scares me most about it is, again, the thought that people like Jack have existed in the past and could very well be walking among us today. The movie is told from the perspective of Jack, as he shares the details of murders he’s committed.

Besides that, the graphic violence and dehumanizing nature featured in the movie earned it an NC-17 rating, a rating only given to movies that are not suitable for most audiences. That being the case, the director was denied a wide release of the movie in theaters. Instead, the movie went directly to streaming services.

Movie Theater
Movie Theater” by roeyahram is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The movie is a strange combination of realism and total fiction. Nothing outright improbable or supernatural happens, but the cliché gullibility of the killer’s victims left me wanting to reach into the screen and yell at them to run. That is to be expected with horror movies though, ridiculous characters that just don’t want to survive I guess. 

But that’s what I’ve grown to love so much about horror movies in general. They can be so outrageously violent and disturbing but there is still those glints of fiction that shine through with each movie. It could be through aggravatingly ignorant characters or through cheesy and over the top villains.

What I’ve taken from watching so many scary movies is simple yet unsettling. The real horror doesn’t come from monsters or ghosts. Real horror comes from real life.

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Anthony Pietrewicz

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