Sunday, November 01, 2009

Three Things

After trick or treating in their home town, my sister brought her one year old over to play and show off his horse costume. The man across the street decorates his yard unbelievably, and the boy wanted to go see the "monstahs." I love that he's not even two yet and he already speaks with a proper British accent.

So, I took the boy across the street and then, amid the hundreds of flocking children, figured I'd take him trick or treating around the block. It was pretty awesome, carrying him to the porches and then letting him receive the candy on his own.* Often, they'd let him pick a candy from a bowl, but he would grab a handful, or take a piece then go back for seconds. With only one exception, everyone let him have the extra candy.

Weirdly enough, though, the child kept wanting to abandon this free sugar shit and go back to see the "monstahs." And I obliged him.

I don't imagine I'll ever have any kids of my own, but if I did, I highly doubt any of them would be as much like me as this boy is.

So, when I finally brought the child back in the house, his hands and face now dangerously cold, my sister informed me that she was going to see PARANORMAL ACTIVITY, and I was coming along. I told her I wasn't interested, that it wasn't my thing, and that I crap my pants enough without going to movies that will cause me to do it.

So I loaded into my brother-in-law's truck and we went to the theatre. For some reason, we had the showtimes confused, and arrived a half an hour early. That turned out to be good, though, because since it was Halloween, the movie totally sold out and there weren't enough seats for everyone that arrived after us.**

The theatre was completely full, and the stranger who sat next to me proceeded to cuss out the girl in the row behind us when, after a scare, she kicked our seats. No one, however, cussed him out when his cellphone began ringing later in the movie.

As anybody who knows me is very aware, I am a giant coward. So it will come as no surprise that I was scared by the movie. It's told in that pseudodocumentary style that Jeff so hates, and was really realistic as far as that went (with the camera being intrusive, inconvenient, and action actually happening offscreen because the characters forgot to take the camera with them), and I felt myself getting swept up in the narrative, which consists of a lot of waiting for something to happen, then reaction when something does, and then more waiting.

Even so, this was probably the tensest moviegoing experience in memory. Every time the darn characters went to sleep, my jaw would clench and my body would tense up like a Bjork song was playing somewhere. I am so scared of ghosts and strange nocturnal noises that the "What was that?!" techniques used here really got under my skin. I never quite forgot that it was a movie (partly because of how consistently made up the female protagonist was), but I enjoyed and admired it as it went along.

Oddly, just after mentioning DRAG ME TO HELL in my last Top Five post, I couldn't help but compare this movie with that one. I think, ultimately, DMTH was scarier to me, because of the constant loud noises and things jumping out, but PA was a slow, unpleasant knot in the stomach that went on for ninety minutes***. At one point, I think I cried a little due to the tension, which surprised me. And at the end of the movie, I tasted vomit.

That doesn't usually happen, since I don't see Paul Greengrass movies anymore.

During the drive home, my sister chilled my very blood by relating a story of an experience she had when she was pregnant with my nephew which parallels PARANORMAL ACTIVITY in a disturbing way. She had gotten an ultrasound of her unborn child, and that night had something between night terrors and a vision, awakening to "see" a presence in the room. Her husband's attempts to calm her were dampened by the fact that he claimed (then and now) to also see something in the darkened bedroom.

I couldn't believe I had never heard this story before, and my brother-in-law corroborated it with a "What're you gonna do?" sort of attitude.

As I've said in the past, my imagination is so overactive, and my sanity is so tenuous, that if anything even remotely similar were to happen to me, I'd be typing this with my arms strapped to my chest.

The next day, we got together with my mom for Sunday Dinner, with my Uncle John and his wife and kid along, and we talked about the movie. Then I urged my sister to tell the story again of what happened to her. She told it, but it didn't have NEARLY the same impact as it had the night before--especially with my uncle knocking holes in it with his irreverence throughout--and I sort of wished I hadn't told her to tell it again. I guess there's a life lesson in there somewhere, that some stories are better left private, or that my uncle can be a tool when he's not center of attention, or maybe that things are simply scarier in the middle of the night than they are in the light of day.


Rish "All Hallow's Steve" Outfield

*Now, of course, you with children are now shaking your heads because you've all been through this many times with your real offspring, and you have to stifle your eye-rolls to get through this since I can't possibly know of the real joy of true parenthood. To you I say: "Die."

**Okay, there probably was enough seats, but not enough so that people could sit together.

***Or a hundred minutes, in the version my Uncle John was telling me about at dinner today. He got a bootleg of the 2007 version shown at festivals, with a bit more footage and a very different ending.

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