In a lot of ways, kids make Halloween more fun. But, like everything else, they also make it much, much worse.
For example, last night, as part of our month of scary movies, instead of watching something legit like Let The Right One In (the original FTW!) or The Conjuring, we watched Hocus Pocus. (Which was much scarier, for totally unintentional reasons.)
I love horror movies.
As a kid, I went through a slasher phase – Freddy was always my favorite – but as I got older, and my taste improved, I moved past that and really began to appreciate the psychological stuff. To this day, Rosemary’s Baby is one of my all-time favorite films, and not just because the big reveal basically sums up my entire worldview. (No spoilers!)
Unfortunately, now that I have kids, that favorite flick serves as a great example of why it’s gotten harder to watch scary movies: They’re too real!
In Rosemary’s Baby, Mia Farrow’s entire pregnancy is a nightmare, and the aftermath doesn’t look to be much better. The Shining is about a dad who goes insane. Poltergeist focuses on a kid who gets too much screen time. The Babadook features a mom struggling with sleep deprivation and her challenging son. The Exorcist is about a little kid who throws fits, uses bad language, and pukes all over people.
These things might as well be documentaries!
And then there’s the other reason these movies are even scarier these days: the stupid kids are always in peril!
The other night we watched the original The Amityville Horror. It was terrible. I knew this going in; I’d seen James Brolin’s hair. But that didn’t stop the shots of murdered children from making me want to go cuddle my kids in their beds. (Just kidding, I would never risk waking them.)
This didn’t used to be a problem.
Back in the day, I used to actively root for the annoying moppet to get axed! I loved laughing at the end of The Good Son. (And also the beginning and the middle.) And this doesn’t just go for horror movies. The obnoxious, precocious kid who inevitably finds himself in danger, annoyingly putting a wrench in the hero’s plans? SHOOT THE HOSTAGE. That girl in Jurassic Park 2 who inexplicably defeats the raptors via a gymnastics routine? FEED HER TO THE T-REX. Jonathan Lipnicki in Jerry Maguire? INDOCTRINATE HIM INTO SCIENTOLOGY I DON’T CARE JUST GET HIM OUT OF MY FACE HE’S TOO CUTE I CAN’T TAKE IT!
But horror movies are the worst, because in horror movies, sometimes the adorable, precocious kids DO bite it. And now that I have two adorable (your mileage may vary) and precocious kids of my own, it’s hard to dissociate the way the cook in The Shining “corrected” his family from my own attempts at discipline.
As much as I love being scared, watching bullies lock Haley Joel Osment into a crawlspace with an angry ghost is no longer as fun as it used to be. And as much as I want my kids to stop watching TV, I don’t want their faces to be frozen into a terrifying rictus like the teens in The Ring. (Even though it would totally serve them right!)
But don’t worry; I’m powering through.
Mom and Buried worships Halloween, and our tradition of watching as many scary movies as we can during the month isn’t going away anytime soon. I figure if I can make it through the next ten years or so I’ll eventually swing back and enjoy watching someone angrily chase teenagers around.
Seeing someone else do it might actually be cathartic.