Horror Film Countdown Day 27 – Movies Anxious Parents Should Avoid
October 27, 2016
Welcome to our countdown to the most anxiety-inducing horror films for parents and we are SO CLOSE to the end!
As you know, we have been covering the films I both love and hate because they’re awesome and they give me panic attacks now that I’m a mom.
We are now down into our final, top five films I would NEVER recommend to a parent with anxiety. These last five have affected my parenting practices in ways I never even realized. Some I’ve never even seen becuase I just always knew better. Watching them to write this series has taken many, many hours with breaks of Disney movies and other things to take my mind off of them and I’m still deeply impacted by them. The one today is part of an elite list of films I actually refused to watch but because of this list, I had to do it.
Disclaimer: Trigger warnings are a given when you talk about horror, but I’m going to say it anyway. Many subjects covered by horror films are disturbing to parents in ways we can’t possibly understand and each is unique to the parent and his/her experiences. Tread carefully and know your limits. If this begins to be too much, there’s no shame in closing the window. Also, this post contains some spoilers throughout.
5. Paranormal Activity 2
This film hit the theaters 17 days after my first child was born. I saw the original in the theater, twice. Why? It terrified me, so I had to share that with others. Obviously. I wasn’t about to suffer that level of paranoia alone…
So, when the second came out, I’d been excited to see it watching the trailers. A new chapter in the story, a new ghost, a new house… it’ll be fun! But as the days crept by and my baby’s birth got closer, the hormones began firing into overdrive and there was no way I could do it. Knowing the movie had a baby in it, knowing that somehow the ghost/monster thing was going to torment it and it was going to be terrifying, I suddenly couldn’t go near it. I couldn’t even watch the trailers after I had him. I filed this film away, deep into the cabinet called “movies I will never, ever watch for any reason, EVER”. Right next to Hostel, Saw 3-…however many they made, and where I later filed Insidious, Annabelle, the Conjuring movies and so many others I knew I just could not handle.
But, here we are. Me and my bright ideas to write a horror film series related to my anxiety. Geeze, I’m stupid. Six years after it came out, almost to the day, I muscled through Paranormal Activity 2 for this list today. All for you. You guys better damn well appreciate this…
So, I’m laying in bed, the alarm set, all doors and windows locked and the dog sleeping in the living room. That should be fine, right?
Heh… That’s what they thought, too.
They seem like a perfectly normal family, successful dad, teenage daughter, a stepmom who just gave birth to a new baby boy. The film opens the first day the child is brought home from the hospital. He is adored by everyone and loved on by aunts, uncles, friends and the housekeeper. The new sister takes pride in her baby brother and she seems to have a great relationship with her step mom. They own a large home on a hill with a beautiful pool over several square feet.
Seems like the perfect life. It always does though, right?
The occurrences start small, hardly noticeable. A door opening a bit wider here, a chair knocked over there… super small, insignificant things anyone could easily explain away. One day, their home is “broken into”. Every single room except the baby’s has been completely turned over and trashed. Nothing has been taken, the only missing item is a necklace the mother’s sister gave her.
As the days go on, life goes back to normal and all is well. Small occurrences continue, but again, easily explained away and with a husband who has no interest in hearing about the paranormal, anyone who might bring it up is quickly shot down and insulted for being so gullible and foolish.
Their housekeeper tries to warn them, she does blessings on the home to attempt to rid it of the darkness. She sages the house and the husband does not approve, so he fires her.
Without anyone there to fight for them against it, the activity continues further and it gets worse; A fire. The kitchen cupboard doors all opening at once. The front door slamming on the teenager, locking her out of the house while babysitting. The dog being injured. Then worse still;
The mother being torn from her baby and dragged by an unseen force out of his room and down the stairs. Twice. Upon the third time, the entity is successful in dragging her all the way down into the basement. When the door finally opens hours later, she emerges slow, distant, vacant… possessed.
Only then, when the security footage shows proof of her being dragged down the stairs, is the husband willing to believe his daughter. Activity has been occurring and something must be done.
He calls the housekeeper for help. She comes back, says there is no way to fix the problem, but they can remove it from their home, but only by transferring the darkness to someone else, a blood relative. He performs a ritual to transfer the demon/spirit into his wife’s sister. Feeling guilty and miserable, he does it to save his own family.
Once this is done, the wife appears to be better. Things return to normal within a few days.
A message flashes on the screen explaining how the sister’s boyfriend was murdered just days after this and the sister herself is missing, just as she appears behind the father in his living room as he watches TV. She is bloody and vacant. She twists his neck and shows no expression.
THIS is where I finally realized who she was and why she appeared so familiar to me throughout the movie. Remember, I’d seen the original one more than once.. but it’s been like 8 years, so it wasn’t at all fresh in my mind. I even had to text a friend and ask; “hey, so…the girl who kills them looks just like the girl who dies in the first one…” Her response was, “mmmm hmmmm”. That’s when I got it, the whole story fell together and the level of terror literally quadrupled in that moment.
She walks upstairs. She forces her sister away from the baby, killing her. Picks up the baby and slowly walks out of the house.
The monster had what it wanted. The end.
So here’s the parenting terror that goes with this one. First of all, I had no idea it was going to be a demon thing. That completely caught me off guard, I had no clue. I thought it was just a ghost like the first one, apparently I never realized that had been a demon, either. Either way, that fact brings a different element to the story.
What I love about these movies is exactly what makes them terrible to the point where I would never watch it again and have no desire to see the others in this series: They are so much more realistic than anything else out there. There’s no three dimensional ghosts who look like tangible, white-faced people. There’s no one seeing faces in windows and no cheap tricks with heart-stopping scare tactics. There’s no terrifying music to lead you into a state of panic. There’s no explanation, no third person perspective of knowing why or what is to come. The film appears to be entirely made up of security footage and hand-held video recordings by the family. This perspective of reality makes it more believable, more suspenseful and more terrifying.
Beyond being frightening, the film is also incredibly frustrating for me as a mother. Now, I realize I’m kind of an “off beat” mom and that probably has something to do with it, too. We co-sleep, babywear, we keep our kids with us and we want them to feel secure – that we will be there for us if we need them, not just when it is convenient for us. I never shut their doors, I never shut mine, I would never just leave my baby in a room, several hundred feet away with the door closed and go about my day. I’d have them in the same room as me where I could see them or at least within direct earshot. When they were small, if I was in the living room or kitchen, I’d put them in a pack and play next to me. Neither of them even saw their beds until they were much older.
So, some of the things these people do and the risks they take with baby are just beyond me.
I mean, worrying about the child seems fairly urgent on their minds, but not nearly as much as it would be if it were actually happening. I don’t know a single person who would’ve continued to allow the baby to sleep in his room alone with the door closed for days and days at a time after this activity had been happening. No one I know would do that! The second something like the things going on would happen, that baby would be in my bed, and on my physical person at all times. I wouldn’t be putting the baby to bed for a nap in the middle the afternoon with the door closed upstairs while I go sit on the couch or in a kitchen a hundred feet away and out of direct eye/earshot, wouldn’t you?
Even if you weren’t entirely sure that what you were experiencing was really happening, you still wouldn’t leave your child by themselves. Literally no one I know would do that. Rational, safe people would take the pack and play down into the living room and you would stay where you could have eyes on the baby if something happened. Isn’t that just… logic? I just don’t understand that mentality. If you’ve been experiencing paranormal activity in your house and your baby randomly start screaming for no reason and things in his bedroom start moving on their own it wouldn’t occur to you to like not let your kid be in there by itself?
The casual nature with which she climbs the stairs as she hears something going on up there to check it out… after several other experiences have happened to her and we all know she’s completely freaked… There were so many times in this movie that I kept thinking they are setting themselves up to have something terrible happen to them because they were not being careful enough. It made me realize how many precautionary measures I take throughout my day to day living just in case something like that actually happens.
There’s a scene where the teenage daughter is babysitting the baby so that her parents can go out for the evening. She hears a noise in the front of the house so she goes up there and nothings there but the front door is open. As she walks toward the door, my first thought is… “where’s her cell phone?” She didn’t have it on her whenever she went to close the front door! So, when she gets locked out because the ghost pushes her butt out the door and locked it behind her, she doesn’t have a way to get back in and she can’t call anybody so she ends up leaving. All I can think of is, REALLY!? You’re completely freaked out in a haunted house and the front door is wide open and you don’t have your PHONE???
So, this movie made me realize how many measures I take in my life to ensure I’m covered in case scary things happen. I keep my charged phone on me at all times. If my phone is not directly in my hand, my computer, which has access to my text messages, is. I’m never without a method of communication. I’ve got 911 on my favorites. I lock all the door locks and windows and set the house alarm when I am home with the kids. If I am taking a shower while home alone with them, I make them come play in my bedroom which is attached to the bathroom so I can hear them if they need me. I never allow my kids to be out of earshot. If I can’t see them, I will call out every 10 or so minutes to check in, “You okay?” They’ll answer “yeah mom, we’re fine”. I make them both answer me. I make them both tell me what they are doing. If either of them delays in answering for more than 30 seconds, I get up and find them. Not because of ghosts, but becuase I love them and I want them to know that I care about what they are doing. …And also ghosts.
So there it is. This one took a great deal of will power to watch and write about. It’s now 2:21am and I’m 2200 words in, so that’s enough.
Tomorrow’s will be shorter, I promise. Until then, sleep tight, don’t let the 3am monsters bite…