horror movies in disguise

The Social Network and Memento were the last two horror movies in disguise I saw. And both terrified me for the same reason.

Let me take things back to various defining moments of my childhood: my earliest horror movies in disguise.

For context, I grew up in the South, aka the Bible Belt.

A Distant Thunder. This well-intentioned movie is actually the instigator of years of insomnia. It is based on the book of Revelations. Its purpose is to warn the audience about what will happen if their hearts are not ready for the return of Jesus.

The horrors begin with the instantaneous disappearance of hundreds of people. The familiar morphs into the eerie. Not by becoming completely foreign. Which would present a challenge in itself. But when the familiar shifts so that it feels almost the same but not quite, this suggests insanity. You’re thrown.

The film significantly begins with a bleak a cappella version of “We are one in the Spirit” which more than the theme from Jaws haunts my subconscious even today. Plus, the inexplicable loss of people you care about is an ineffable memory of PTSD proportions for people who are adopted.

As a 10-year-old, I was lead from my folding chair in the cafeteria, with my hands still over my eyes. I was permitted to sit out the second half. I was not spared some of the horsemen or the mark of the beast . . . but I later learned, I missed the guillotine.

The Hiding Place. The Christians’ Diary of Anne Frank. Concentration camp scenes. Enough said.

Joni. The scenes immediately following the diving accident that leaves this young woman paralyzed resurface in my dreams even today. Losing everything familiar in an instant, irreversibly. Face down on an ambulance cart. Terrifying.


Shawshank Redemption also has a choke hold on my amygdala. Okay, it’s the gang rape scenes. I also can’t handle prison movies.

The Talented Mr. Ripley. The calling out of being a fraud. As every adopted person knows, there’s “real family” and then there’s your family. What’s the difference between Mr. Ripley’s con and what you call your life? A thin, indistinguishable line that collapses with virtually every frame of this film. Matt Damon knows my secret. It’s pretty ugly.

The Social Network and Memento expose the frightening aspects of an incapacity to perceive clearly in relationships. When we ourselves become suspect. Our own intellect turns on us. Becomes a loose footing.  Intuition evaporates. The rendering helpless, no useless, no dangerous of the intellect when it tries to take on raw emotion.

The Asian girlfriend who sends over 80 unwanted, desperate texts.


About jaclynfre

Tech integration specialist, recipe adventurer, fast walker, sporadic writer, aunt, sister and daughter
This entry was posted in Life and Culture and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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