By Lois Kennedy
My uncle posted the above meme on my Facebook, and my imagination went wild. What a question! There are so many variables based on why this person has never seen a horror movie and suddenly wants to. Is this friend a kid? Does this friend hate horror movies? Has this friend been completely out of touch with popular culture?
If the viewer is fairly young, like my friend Paula’s son Aidyn, who loves the genre but is only ten, I would start small. My own first horror movie was Witchboard, but that’s a bit mature. Not in the scares department, but in the adult situations department. There are plenty of childrens’ movies that are creepy as all-get-out. As an ’80s baby, my mind goes straight to Legend, Labyrinth, and The Dark Crystal. I also grew up watching Hocus Pocus (not creepy, but a great movie) and The Witches. For more recent fare, there’s always Igor and of course Coraline.
For the older child, I would take it up a notch. My niece Zakura, who’s about to turn 15, has recently discovered the wonderful world of horror. She’s old enough to appreciate the idea of classics and genre standards like Halloween, Hellraiser, and A Nightmare on Elm Street. While paring down my DVD collection, I gave her a box of my old favorites like Shutter, Ginger Snaps, and The Cell. Since she’s learning Japanese, I made sure to include Tomie and Ringu.
If the friend hates horror movies, things are a bit trickier. Most people avoid horror because of the gore or a dislike of being scared. My friend Stacy hates gore; we used to go to the movies all the time in the early 2000s, and horror movies were verboten. For some reason she agreed to go to Cabin Fever with me, and she straight-up walked out. And this is a woman who sat through Drumline and The Tuxedo. I did manage to drag her to They, which she didn’t mind. I think the best way to introduce horror movies is to go slowly, with multi-genre films. Comedies like Shaun of the Dead, dramas like Red Dragon (which Stacy went to voluntarily and liked), sci-fi like Creature.
If the friend is an alien or was raised by wolves (none of my friends are or have, as far as I know), but I think I’d want to highlight the best the genre (and humanity) has to offer. No torture porn. No bleak stuff. I’d want to focus on movies that celebrate the human spirit, like Dawn of the Dead.
Those are my choices. However, since I drifted off topic a bit, my short answer is The Devil’s Backbone. It’s smart, it’s stylish, and it’s Guillermo del Toro. Nuff said.