Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wanna See Something Really Scary?

Macy knows I like horror movies. She knows this both because I've told her on more than one occasion and because even a nine-year-old can look at my movie collection and know that The Evil Dead trilogy, Alien, and House on Haunted Hill aren't romantic comedies.

Like any child who thinks her dad is the most awesomeist thing ever, she wants to emulate me to a degree. I know this on an intuitive level; she seeks my approval when she follows in my footsteps. It's all terribly flattering.

She's been lobbying for us to start having scary movie night for a long time now and I want to oblige. Of course, this desire to indulge my daughter is tempered with my desire not to scar her for life. Or, if I'm being honest, my desire to not have to deal with a daughter who's afraid of the dark and has constant nightmares. When I was a kid I always wanted to watch horror movies. My parents generally didn't let me, but I managed to catch a few anyway. The Nosferatu knockoff in the TV adapation of Salem's Lot scare the living crap out of me. So did the ball/scythe mash-up in Phantasm. Seeing these things was thrilling and satisfying right up until the moment my dad would say, "time for bed." Then it was all terror and dread. Luckily, I was a firm believer in the ability of a thin sheet and a thick blanket to keep me safe from all manner of bogeyman.

I want to indulge Macy, who seems to have a firm sense of what is real and what is not. So I did what any responsible father would do in 2011: I solicited the opinions of my friends on Facebook. I explained the situation and my own desire to not thrust Macy right into The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. I got several good suggestions, including Poltergeist, which of course I should have thought of immediately. I've been meaning to make Macy deathly afraid of clowns. Some other good ones were ghost stories like The Sixth Sense and The Others. These made sense to me as a way of easing Macy into this sort of thing, like a gateway drug, if you will. Let her get a little taste before pushing her head first into the bowl.

As luck would have it, I got home from work on Friday and discovered that both Signs and The Sixth Sense were going to be showing on movie channels over the course of the weekend. I set the DVR and we made plans to cook up a feast and watch scary movies while we ate.

A quick aside: I don't think Signs or The Sixth Sense qualify as either horror movies or "scary". There are a couple of moments in each, like when you first see the alien in the former at the birthday party or when the kid gets locked in the closet in the latter. But neither movie would have given me reason to sleep with my head under the covers if I had seen them as a child of Macy's age. Gateway drugs, remember.

Macy's impression of Signs was generally favorable, though she thought the aliens looked way too fake (she's right) and wasn't at all scared. The smothered chicken went over much better.

The Sixth Sense was a different story, at least as far as how Macy felt about it. She absolutely loved it. She thought it was creepy without being scary, exactly (which is how I feel about it as well). When she figured out the big twist she was suitably awed. We talked about it afterward and she totally got that Bruce Willis never talked to anyone except Haley Joel Osment after being shot in the opener. She's still talking about it the next day. The funniest part of the movie occurred when the boy handed the grieving father the box which contained evidence that his wife had intentionally poisoned their daughter, causing her death. The father opens the box, which contains a videotape. Macy, confused, asked, "what's that?"

The braciole we made for dinner wasn't as big a hit; I've adjusted the recipe though and I think it'll be much better next time. The tapenade appetizer was gobbled up though (I still can't get over the fact that Macy will eat tapenade).

All in all it was a successful weekend. Macy is, I think, a little disappointed that the movies weren't scarier. She told me she thought The Sixth Sense would have some of those gotcha moments when something jumps out at you. So I'm going to turn up the scare factor a little bit for our next weekend together. I'm hitting Amazon for some classics like Poltergeist, Arachnophobia, and Something Wicked This Way Comes. If she handles those -- which I have no doubt she will -- we'll turn it up a little bit more. I have extra blankets for her bed.

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