My husband just landed the T.V. on Natural Born Killers. Juliette Lewis’s pretty pouty mouth just spat the f-bomb about seven times. Lovely. I will confess I’ve seen the movie in its entirety and I was not horrified by it in the manner I expected to be. I found the whole opening sequence so artfully constructed that I couldn’t turn away, but it was very violent. Very. I felt altered by it, I could never watch it again and I definitely don’t recommend it to any of my loved ones. Certainly, there is no way my child will ever see it. With my eyes averted to write this, I am still feeling overwhelmed just by the sound of this film. It is sharp, chaotic and disturbing.
A friend and I once had a conversation about what sort of movies scare us the most. We agreed that anything depicting torture is outside our comfort level and could not be watched, but that’s where our similarities ended. I saw The Exorcist when I was twelve (thanks to a momentary lapse in judgment by another friend’s mother) and I was forever affected by it. To this day, Linda Blair still haunts me in my weakest moments. I cannot stand movies about possession or demons or freaky dead zombies or anything of unearthly evil. I was terrified by those dark growling blobs which surfaced to drag Tony Goldwyn to the underworld in Ghost. That sort of thing scares me. It just scares me! Having a baseball bat next to your pillow can’t defend you against that, right? I always like to understand what I’m up against.
My friend, on the other hand, is a Christian woman who believes that she will be protected by God in such circumstances. (Truth be told, I do feel that way a bit myself.) The demon flicks don’t freak her out. She would know what to do if the devil paid her a visit. Although I have no interest in attending her church and I am happy with my own faith and beliefs, I do envy her that assurance. I wish I’d had that confidence at age twelve. Maybe I would have slept a little better under the eerie dancing shadows in the room the night I saw The Exorcist. Of course, I’m not sure my friend knew she walked with God at that age. Maybe the movie would have freaked her out back then too. Twelve is pretty young.
I don’t mind movies about guys who hide under the bed with a big knife as much as I mind the demon things. I figure I have a fighting chance against that guy. I mean, seriously, I might get stabbed, but I could get away if I’m faster than he is, right? And maybe he will have skipped his Wheaties that day. I could scream and run and use the bat and it would probably make a difference! My friend says the knife guy kind of freaks her out. She has little confidence in herself against a crazy dude with a big metal weapon. I think she prefers tests of faith to tests of mortal survival skill. I guess I’m kind of the opposite. I prefer a scenario that requires good instincts, quick thinking and physical presence. I’m much taller than my friend and that may be a factor in my preference. I don’t feel as physically vulnerable to the guy with the knife as she does. Of course, this in no way means I’d like to meet him.
One of the creepiest movies I’ve seen in the past few years is What Lies Beneath. For several months I kept imagining a ghostly dead girl floating in deep water next to my bed at night. She and Linda Blair took turns completely freaking me out. It has helped in recent months to see Amber Valletta (who plays freaky dead girl) in other movies. Now as I go to bed I can call her by name in my room if she dares to chill my bones. That always scoots her out. It’s weird that the first name basis thing never worked for me with Linda. She still crouches in my room on occasion and there’s little I can do to make her go. I try to think of happy lovely things and that always lowers the threat of her, but I know if I indulge even a moment’s thought about that spooky movie, she will plant herself in my room all night.
My husband has turned off the T.V. and I have to say, I’m quite relieved. I understand the cinematic achievement of Natural Born Killers. I really do. I’m not a prude and I appreciate art in all its forms, but I guess the mother in me has no use for that kind of thing. I just can’t stand gratuitous violence and lack of regard for human life. And well…that movie is sort of a big indulgence of exactly that. It’s artsy and well crafted, but disgusting just the same! I think I’ll just watch my recording of Design Star tomorrow.