Horror films aren’t so horrifying

Story by Mykaela Cross, Assistant Editor

It was dark and the smell of buttered popcorn wafted toward me on the couch. I’d been anticipating this moment for weeks now. Ouija had promised to be a terrifying trip to into a paranormal realm of horror. When the credits rolled and I turned on the lights, I looked at a friend who’d braved the adventure alongside me and couldn’t help noticing that neither of us were impressed.

The saddening truth is I’ve found this is the case often. More and more frequently, horror films are falling short of expectations. Looking around, with today’s video games and television shows, there isn’t much that scares me these days.

I won’t deny it, I play video games. I’m also a fan of watching others play games I don’t have access to. Modern CGI graphics and virtual technology enable thrill-seekers to play horrific story lines filled with gore galore and startling jump-scares that throw gamers from their seats in fright of high-definition and even virtual-reality experiences. With new systems like the the XBox One and Oculus Rift, consumers seeking scares can place themselves inside the nightmares in first-person perspective.

By comparison, watching a movie just seems mundane.

Over the holidays, I got to spend some time with my family and found out an interesting fact about one of my youngest cousins. No more than 11, the boy loves playing games and watching movies with family and friends. During our Christmas celebration, I found him playing a new hit horror game, “Five Nights at Freddy’s”, and was stunned.

“Five Nights at Freddy’s” is a jumpscare game, or a game in which something terrifying surprises players at every turn. The game’s plot features killer animatronics that intend to terminate the player. Seeing my younger cousin play something that I at that age would not have been playing and then hearing him speak about Slenderman simply shows me that America’s modern culture desensitizes consumers to fear at a young age.

New big-name horror games are regularly released. Some of the recent hits have been “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”, “Outlast” and its DLC “Outlast: Whistleblower”, “Alien Isolation”, “The Evil Within”, and the long time anticipated new release “Dying Light”. Whether it features killer aliens, zombies, ghosts, crazies, or long-limbed demons who come to steal children, each of the games heighten players’ fears using atmospheric noises and steadily improving graphics.

New and growing technology like the Oculus Rift are now going as far as to give gamers a virtual reality experience, throwing them directly into the heart of the horror experience.

Hollywood just can’t keep up. Sure, we see the same themes in movies: zombies, demons, dreams, but what we can’t do with films is personally interact and make decisions.

I enjoy the television series, The Walking Dead, but if you ask me, the experience is nothing compared to playing the new video games. In the game, not only am I able to choose what my character says and how it reacts, I am also able to enact the plot elements myself and shape the game into the story I want to see.

The physical effects the game invoke in comparison to the show are drastically different as well. When I watched the series there was a hint of anticipation and adrenaline, but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve had to pause a game and breathe or watch funny cat videos to calm my heart down. In games, everything seems so much more real and personal that the experience is completely different to watching someone experience something on screen.

I still intend to continue watching horror flicks with friends, but it would take a pretty terrifying film to ever contend with the first-person experiences I’ve had in video games. I would highly suggest that any fellow adrenaline junkies looking for a true terror experience check out a game before going to a movie.