Hereditary Might Have Done Permanent Damage

Fuck, I miss going to the movies.

My husband and I love horror movies. It’s actually how we started dating. It Follows had come out and neither of us knew anyone else who wanted to see it, so we went together. It turned out to be the best movie to see on a first date, because there was no awkward shuffling around and trying to decide if we should hold hands or not. By the time the movie was over neither of us wanted to be touched by any human being ever again. We stood six feet away from each other, barked ‘BYE’ into the distance between us with a stiff wave and then power walked to our respective cars.

The thing is, despite how much I love them, they can still scare the clear blue shit out of me. Because I’m an adult who does adult things like taxes and pants, I can handle it. It might take me a bit longer to get to sleep. Maybe I have to leave the bathroom light on. By the next night I’m over it and I continue on with my adult life like the adult I am. There were movies I had seen in childhood that kept up for weeks on end, but that hadn’t happened since The Ring when I was fifteen. Since then my brain had matured and I had grown cynical and throughout my late teens and early twenties I was able to watch horror movies with only minor discomfort.

And then we watched Hereditary.

Hereditary is a 2018 film directed by Ari Aster (Midsommar, also fucked up) concerning a family’s supernatural…troubles…after the crazy, secretive grandmother dies. I am very much going to be avoiding spoilers here, mostly because I really, really don’t want to think about the details of this movie any more than I have to. I will put up the trailer, though, because I can assure you it is low on plot, high on insanity.

We saw the trailer a few months beforehand, and I instantly knew I couldn’t see this movie. Okay, not instantly. It started as just a little ember of doubt, and it was like someone was slowly adding another log to the flame ever few seconds until it was a bonfire. And then the moment at 1:47 was when some redneck tossed some gasoline on it and my doubt blew up into a firebomb of NAH. I knew what I could handle. And watching that trailer…I couldn’t handle it. Too much, no sale. I looked to my husband to tell him that this particular movie would be too much for me.

He was like a little kid who just saw Santa and the Easter Bunny hanging out together and playing Tonka trucks in his backyard. He was making his fuck yes face and giving me a thumbs up. And from there I knew I was doomed, because if we didn’t see it together he’d probably never get it to see it. He’ll never go to a movie by himself and we’re terrible at watching movies at home. And I fucking love my husband, so that was that. And hell. It was just a trailer. Trailers sucks. Maybe it wasn’t going to be as scary as I thought it was. Yeah, it was all overblown. It was the editing. I’m thirty-fucking-one, for Christ’s sake. I can handle a god damned movie.

And for the first hour and a half, I was handling it. It’s actually a very good movie, certified fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and everything. The pacing was good, the tension was like a razor, there weren’t any jump scares, no, all the scares were earned. I was scared, yes, but the appropriate amount of scared for a movie. Then the movie started its ramp to the climax, and for the next half hour I only had one repeating thought.

I want to get off Mr. Bones Wild Ride.

I have never been more terrified in my entire life.

That’s just a fact. Granted, my life has been pretty tame. It’s only beating out a few instances of airplane turbulence and that time my sister called my crying so hard she couldn’t make words and I thought both my parents must have died. But it’s still a fact. I’ve never been more scared. I’ve never even been close to being that scared. A couple of times I was laughing at how horrified I was because I literally didn’t have any other physiological response. It wasn’t real, logically I knew that. But that didn’t matter. The fear had taken over. The lights went up and I was pale and shaking. Peter thought I was okay, you know, because I’d been laughing, so he was shocked to see me.

We prefer seeing movies during the day, so I hoped that I would be fine. There were still hours of daylight. Surely, I will be over it before bed. It was just a movie, after all.

As soon as we went to bed and turned off the lights I knew I was fucked. It was like I was a little kid again. Frozen on my left side, getting uncomfortable and too hot under the comforter but I didn’t want to move lest my movement attracted something. And anyway, left side was good because I couldn’t see much, just the wall and the curtains. But…the door to the room was on the other side and I couldn’t see it. There was more of the room behind me. What if something was back there? So, very carefully, I would turn over. Now I could see the room. Oh, God, now I could see the room. If something was there, I could see it! I’d cover my head, but then, if something was there, I couldn’t see it! Better uncover my head.

This went on for two hours before I realized I was not going to be coming down. I gave up and went to the living room. I needed the lights on. I needed the television on. I needed my fucking cat to stop looking over my shoulder like something was there, there’s nothing there Bruce stop it. When I was kid and I watched something too scary I used to stay up all night watching Nick at Night, so that’s what I sought out. Comfort in old stupid sitcoms. I found Frasier, picked a random episode, and let it play from there. I would fall asleep to the soothing sounds of Frasier and Niles arguing in their posh accents about red wine.

Y’all, I couldn’t even close my eyes without being scared. Lights on. Television on. Didn’t matter. The second I closed my eyes all the fear came back and I was practically hyperventilating. I think I passed out from exhaustion around five. The only reason this didn’t go on for weeks or even months is because at the time I was working night shift and I could fall asleep during the day.

I am not saying it’s the scariest movie ever made. I’m not telling you to run out and watch it and destroy your own life. My husband had no idea anything was wrong until the next morning, because he fell asleep instantly. But something about that movie just fucking shook me up, and it’s a little bit of a bummer because it’s so well made and I’d love to go back to look for tiny details but my heart literally will not take it. Because even now, two years later, there’s still times I’m walking back from the bathroom in the middle of the night and my brain goes hey fuck you and then I’m lightly jogging my fat ass back to bed to hide under the covers. Like an adult.

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