Creepiest Moments in Horror Movies
I love horror movies. I watch them because I think they're fun, funny, and have gratuitous violence. When I'm down, I watch them to cheer myself up. It is very, very rare that a movie actually manages to scare me. I don't mean just makes me jump, or freak me out for a few minutes before I forget about it. I mean a truly penetrating fear that lasts beyond the scope of the movie. This is my place to honor those moments.

Silent Hill 1) SILENT HILL: The Demon

Silent Hill is wrapped in an ashen fog that shrouds the town's horrific past. It is a reality warp created by the blackened heart of Alessa, a sweet little girl who was cooked alive by a congregation of religious zealots. She can not forgive them, and accepts a pact with The Demon at her deathbed, who gives her the power to punish those that hurt her. But though The Demon can curse their town, it can not enter their church, which is protected by the stubbornness of their blind faith. The Demon makes another deal with Rose, the adoptive mother of an incarnation of Alessa, explaining that all they want is "satisfaction." It merges with Rose and has her bring it inside the church whereupon all hell breaks loose. This is not a mindless entity that kills everything in sight. It only annihilates those responsible for Alessa's suffering, and leaves Rose and her daughter alone. The Demon is intelligent, which fits with my view of the universe where all beings are fundamentally rational, and therefore possible to reason with or even befriend. But after it enacts Alessa's revenge, it is somehow not satisfied. Rose tells her daughter to close her eyes and not look at the carnage, but the little girl can't help it and opens them at the last minute - only to see The Demon staring down at her with a cryptic smile. In that moment, you can almost feel it looking into your own soul. The Demon possesses Rose's daughter, and though they are now able to leave Silent Hill, it does not release them from the limbo of timeless fog.

The question for me here is "why?" Why would The Demon betray a mutually beneficial pact? Why was it unwilling to let them go even after they helped it? Or did it instead help them and was now claiming its due? Were its intentions malevolent or benevolent? Did it feel like it owed Alessa's incarnation the experience of having a loving mother all to herself for all eternity? In the end, what was its motivation? To claim their souls? To avenge the corruption of a girl while enjoying the consequences? Or was it just toying with them? Perhaps it is a lesson along the lines of the Greek Orpheus myth. Where Orpheus wins the favor of the god of the Underworld and is allowed to take his bride's soul back - as long as he didn't look behind him before they reach the land of the living. Rose's little girl got too curious and opened her eyes, losing the protection they have earned. In my view of the universe where all things should be confronted directly, openly, and honesty, are there still some things that aren't meant to be seen? Are there still forces that are beyond our control and can't be reasoned with?

The funny thing is, I got to drive through thick fog on my way home from watching the movie. I felt like the world had changed... to something less safe.

Signs 2) SIGNS: TV Goes Blank

People either love Signs or they hate it. I'll admit it has its plot holes, but it still manages to create a very potent atmosphere. An ordinary family stuck in the middle of nowhere during an alien invasion. I feel familiar with aliens. Most of them I feel are friendly or at least (for various crazy reasons I won't go into) would respect my authority. Here they are presented as an unknown force of pure evil. I guess it makes me feel like if I were in the family's situation, the invaders would treat me with no less brutality. The whole movie works its way up to this point. Unlike many horror movies that either use too much suspense without showing the creature, or too much showing the creature without suspense, Signs balances both... and does it backwards. First they show you the aliens and what they are capable, then they use suspense. It works. The family sits huddled in their boarded up home, waiting for the inevitable. Their television has been broadcasting about the aliens the whole day as a testament to human support, communication, and technological advancement as a species. When they check the TV now, the signal is gone and the screen it blank... and in that unspoken moment, a sickening realization at the pit of your stomach tells you that THEY're here. It's simple, it's beautiful, it's powerful. It and the walkie-talkie noises still creep the $%!& out of me.

Silent Hill3) SILENT HILL: The Lava Children

OH DEAR GODS THE LAVA CHILDREN!! I'm sorry Silent Hill is on the list twice, but the two scenes scare me for entirely different reasons, so it deserved a spot of its own. As Rose wanders the ashen streets and bloody sewers of Silent Hill, as she happens upon dead and dying bodies, things are pretty damn creepy. But it is not until you see the twitching, misshapen form of some hellish creature inching its way towards her from behind, do you realize that she's not in Kansas (West Virginia?) anymore. She turns around and the thing looks at her with its sad eyes before uttering the most freakish shriek in the history of cinema. If that scream alone doesn't make your blood run cold, you must be inhuman. But that's not all, in seconds the entire scene is swarming with these creatures, all shrieking and running and grasping at the heroine. You expect her to fight them off, to get away, to lock the door - she HAS to survive, right?? This does not happen. They pile in through the door and drag her into their midst. For days afterwards I would imagine shrieking lava children appearing behind me or running at me out of the dark. I told myself that I'm not in Silent Hill, that I did not burn them, and that they're attracted to light anyway, but to no avail.


Amityville Horror 4) THE AMITYVILLE HORROR: Bathroom Scene

Everyone has experienced the feeling of wandering alone through a dark house or apartment. Every shadow is exaggerated, every little noise amplified, and some primal human fear is eating at your nerves. Now imagine your house is actually haunted and those suspicions that you dismiss as an overactive imagination are actually correct. When little Michael Lutz goes to the bathroom in the middle of the night, he is not alone. But unlike in a typical horror movie, where at this point he would turn around, see the creature, and freak out, Michael is unaware of its presence. Perhaps that is what makes this scene so scary. The creatures are there, and they can affect you, but you can't see them, and therefore can't do anything about them. Even if you turn around to assure yourself its nothing, you're still wrong and they're still there. This scene scares me a lot less than the others on the list, but it is still noteworthy.

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