How to make scary movies scarier

As I look around and see the pumpkins carved into jack-o’-lanterns and other Halloween decorations, it reignites my love of everything that falls under the genre of horror.

Seeing these sights takes me back to when I first began to fall in love with the spooky season. Like most young teenagers, I was introduced to horror movies by my older brothers and cousins. At that time, they were not as scared of these movies as I was, or at least they put on a brave face while watching them with me.

I think the first scary movie I ever watched was Sleepy Hollow. At the time I didn’t find it extremely scary but I remember really liking the story. I recently re-watched this film on cable and I still feel the same way.

This film was just the gateway to my journey of discovering scarier films.

I remember soon after that began my obsession with psychological thrillers such as Silence of the Lambs and The Sixth Sense. I must admit that those films had me scared out of sleeping for days on end after my first viewing.

I know this doesn’t sound desirable to some people, but if you were a fan of horror movies you understand the adrenaline that comes from being scared out of your wits.

In hindsight, I feel like I jumped from slightly scary films to some of the scariest films of all time. By this, I mean that I jumped over an entire subgenre of gory slasher films.

When I did finally discover these films I didn’t find them scary because I had seen more frightening films before. I didn’t find myself scared of make-believe monsters because what I had become truly scared of were the serial killer characters that were, most of the time, based on real crimes.

But as I re-watched my favourite films, over and over, they began to lose their fear factor – to me at least.

Soon enough, even the psychological thrillers didn’t make my skin crawl like they used to.

For time reference, this was in my late teen years.

I began to look for ways to make these films scary again.

In no time, I became the friend who would challenge my peers to actions that would make scarier films even scarier. For example, I can remember inviting my friends over to watch the movie Jeepers Creepers 2 before we went to visit a local corn maze at night. I can also remember a time where I set up a TV outside to watch the film The Mist with my friends. I can’t remember if there was fog that night, but I bet I was hoping it would roll in for the full effect.

Like I mentioned before, this spooky season in particular has had me reminiscing on my teen years. These thoughts have led me to come to the realization that I still do things to make scary things scarier.

I recently re-watched the movie Scream at home, alone, with the doors unlocked. If you know that film at all you will understand why this would make it scarier.

I came to this realization when I was watching the movie, again on cable, when my husband came through the door and asked what I was watching. When I told him he said in exclamation, “And you didn’t lock the doors? Wow, you are brave.”

I rolled my eyes because he is not a fan of horror movies, so I thought his compliment, sarcastic or not, was nothing to put any weight behind.

But apparently, some habits never leave you.

My latest endeavor is part of my plans for my vacation with my family in Algonquin Park. While enjoying some time away, I plan to read a book about the murder of the artist Tom Thomson who was found dead in a lake less than an hour drive away from where we have rented a cottage.

If you read my Blyth Festival Theatre play review of Assassinating Thomson, then you will know I have recently bumped this book up in my “to read” book list and I have very much been looking forward to it for about a month now.

In closing, I challenge you to enjoy some of the spooky aspects of this season. It is such a fun but short time of the year.


Kelsey Bent is a journalist with Midwestern Newspapers. She can be reached by emailing