You can hate getting scared and still want to watch scary movies. I’m a little crying baby, but I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying The Babadook, or enjoying and then hating 10 Cloverfield Lane. My strategy for both was simple: Watch on the couch with a friend, pausing a little for drinks. It worked great, I only had two nightmares after each movie!
Over at GQ, my fellow scaredy-waredy powderpuff Jaya Saxena recommends the couch-with-friends strategy, plus some other ways to cope with scary movies when you aren’t a diehard horror fan.
Prepare a chaser
You know how old movie cinemas showed cartoons and newsreels before the feature presentation? Do that in reverse. Have a couple of funny or calming YouTube videos on hand for after. Maybe watch an old favourite sitcom episode. Take your mind off the freakiest scenes that are threatening to stick in your mind for months.
If you’re watching a movie after the first few weeks of release, you could even queue up a few parodies. See if SNL or CollegeHumor did a sketch about this movie, one that will help all the big bad monsters seem less scary and remind you that it’s just a movie. You know, the way you’d help a little child cope. Hell, Stranger Things even got parodied by Sesame Street.
Watch with a friend (who isn’t a jerk)
Make them read this Lifehacker article, which is a lot of the same advice but from the point of view of the less-scared friend. If you’re getting too wrapped up in the movie, look over at them, make annoying comments, anything that helps take you out of the reality of the movie for a bit.
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My wife likes scary movies even less than I do, so sometimes I watch one while she’s away on business. This is foolhardy! This is when the nightmares happen! It’s really hard to fall asleep if you’re missing your partner and you just saw like five people get ripped open! Find a friend.
Previously, Saxena has advised scared people to spoil the movie for themselves.
If you don’t want to ruin the whole plot, try these two resources: Where’s the Jump? tells you exactly when any jump scares happen, and Does the Dog Die? warns you about over 50 common upsetting elements in movies and TV shows. So you can figure out, for example, whether there’s any blood and gore, or eye mutilation, or suicide, and you’ll know what to expect without spoiling the entire movie.
Have fun, remember there is no wrong way to choose how you consume a movie and anyone who says otherwise is an arsehole, and never watch Saw.