5 Boring Things That Movies and TV Have Managed to Make Scary as Hell
Look, if you’re making a horror movie, or any show or movie that’s supposed to have an occasional scary bit happen, it’s easy to toss in something naturally terrifying and call it a day. Send in the clowns, the flesh-masked mutants, your ominous twins, and be done with it. What takes a little more skill is to take something that is, at its base, truly nothing, and turn that into something terrifying. Sure, Jaws made people scared of the beach, but shark attacks are already pretty high up our mental “uh oh” list. To put out the kind of movie that will make people terrified of, like, gumball machines? That’s craftsmanship.
Even weirder, sometimes, a movie so effectively makes something spooky that other movies start to include it, and we end up with a trope of some incredibly innocent object or situation now being a “scary movie thing.” Because of the success of The Last of Us, are we about to be subjected to a flood of fungal freakazoids for the foreseeable future? You already know the answer to that question.
For now, though, here are five incredibly boring things that movies and TV have made scary...
Let’s pick up right where I left off above — with The Last of Us and its fungi-focused zombie affliction. Despite the joke that will attempt to convince you of the contrary, these are not fun guys. Props due to Neil Druckmann and the original team for achieving what might have seemed impossible: finding a fungus that anybody wants to hear about. In most people’s day-to-day life, their memorable encounters with fungi are probably using it as an impetus to throw out bread, picking mushrooms with the texture of an engine gasket off pizza and athletes attempting to get it to stop growing on their foot.
Right up until the release of Last of Us, if someone brought up fungus to you at a party? Nothing would make your bladder fuller faster. It was going one of two ways: 1) they were about to tell you wholly too much about a medical situation they were having; or 2) they were a giant nerd. So it’s pretty impressive that Naughty Dog and now Craig Mazin were able to make me worry about fungus for the first time in a long time.
Except for black mold. That shit is terrifying.
Now, back before anyone had invented any way to listen to a full piece of music without bringing a group of performers into your palace chambers, I’m sure music boxes were a great way to pass 23 seconds. In what is terrible news for small porcelain ballerinas everywhere, though, technology has come a long way. The music boxes that still exist today mostly all just play some dead person’s favorite song. As much as I love a medium-recognizable snippet of a song played on a fork tine, I’m probably just going to open Spotify when I want to be serenaded.
Somehow, though, music boxes have absolutely carved out a niche, much like the one their little spinning figurines reside in, as one of the spookiest pieces of home goods available. Throw a tinkling music box in an attic and you pretty much guarantee that room will remain used for nothing more than storage and maybe a dare during a sleepover. Compounding all this is how rare music boxes are these days, making their role in horror basically their whole thing now. Imagine walking into a friend’s house and seeing a music box. You’d be like, “Hey, man, am I about to solve an elaborate series of puzzles? Did the Umbrella Corporation drop a new virus?”
Every single thing about cornfields is boring as fuck. I mean, they’re basically used as shorthand for a portion of the country where absolutely nothing is going on. The only good thing to ever come out of a cornfield are high fructose syrup and maybe having sex in there after some sort of barn dance. They tried to turn some of them into mazes to make them fun, but if you’ve ever been to one, you know how fast that fades. Going through a corn maze with a partner makes an IKEA trip feel like a bonding activity.
But again, in the realm of horror, a cornfield is fucking terrifying. If you’re in some sort of serial killer/supernatural terror situation, a cornfield is probably one of the most dangerous locations you can be in, second only to whatever room two people are having sex in.
I know that people fall asleep to white noise, but I cannot for the life of me understand why anyone would purposefully listen to a sound that feels like it was designed to elicit confessions. Coupled with some classic snowy TV static, it’s enough to raise the hairs on anyone’s spine. More specifically, though, we have to remember the period after the American release of The Ring, when passing channel 03 on your television was enough to turn your tighty-whities into tighty-yellows.
When my eighth grade algebra teacher inexplicably showed us The Ring during a day we had off class, he turned one of my best friends — the television — into one of my greatest enemies. For weeks afterward, I was inching around the corners of family rooms, like those old fatback televisions were guards and I was in search of state secrets. Kids today will never know the terror of television static, only the soothing energy of Roku City.
First of all, to my space nerds: shut up. We get it. Vast expanse, yadda yadda. Oh, there’s no sound in space? Holy shit dude, that’s fucking wild. I wish there was no sound right now so I didn’t have to hear any more space facts! Not my atmosphere, not my problem — that’s what I always say.
In the name of scaring us, though, no celestial body is more popular than the asteroid. An asteroid, of course, being a fucking rock. Somehow, these dumb rocks have gotten an incredible amount of clout as terrifying because people are just like, “Watch out! They could hit something.” Sure, I guess they could. In the future, maybe we’ll have to ship out some stubbled plumbers or whatever to try to break one up.
All in all, though, I look at an asteroid wiping out the planet in one solid “thock” like I look at getting hit by a city bus: I hope it never happens, but I’m not going to spend my whole life pointing out every bus that passes within 20 yards of me.