The Conjuring changed me: When sleepovers go bad, a first person experience.
Youth Advisory Panel member on April 17, 2023
When I was younger a sleepover typically consisted of ‘Just Dance Two’, late-night chats about who was crushing on whom, and ended with my most dreaded sleepover activity of them all — a good ol’ horror movie.
In Year 7 (ages 11-12), I vividly remember being at a sleepover with some friends, snuggling into my fluffy blankets and having eaten almost a whole packet of fruit skittles I was ready to fall asleep when I hear, “Guys, we should watch a horror movie!” There are no words to explain how this was the worst possible sentence I could have ever imagined. At the time, I was definitely a massive ‘scaredy cat.’ Any sort of horror movie scared me. I suggested we watch something more light-hearted like ‘Barbie Life in the Dreamhouse,’ but my vote counted for nothing against the majority of seven. We ended up watching ‘The Conjuring’ despite my objections. I covered my face with my fluffy blanket, which was now being used as a shield, pretending to be asleep for 1 hour and 52 mins.
There were brief moments where I took a glance at the movie, and I regretted it all night. Not to mention, the film’s sound effects of horrified screams frightened me even more. I got zero sleep. Everything in the darkness looked like some sort of monster. If I put my foot an inch off the bed it would drag me into an endless portal from the frightening horror universe.
The same thing happened over and over— not wanting to watch a horror movie, suggesting something more light-hearted, being out-voted, and pretending to be asleep for the rest of the movie. I didn’t want my friends to think I was a ‘party-pooper’ and I knew I couldn’t call my parents. Waking them up from a deep sleep might have been even scarier than the movie itself. But with age and maturity the horror genre eventually became one of my favourite genres, with authors like Stephen King being all I read and horror movies being my go-to.
Looking back now, if I could give myself or anyone else some tips on how to survive a sleepover as a non-horror lover I would suggest:
#1 - Suggest a movie that you feel more comfortable watching and voice your feelings. Good friends should respect your boundaries and listen to how you feel.
#2 - Find a way to distract yourself from the movie. Whether it’s putting in headphones to block out sound effects or playing a game on your phone to distract yourself from potentially disturbing scenes - knowing when or where upsetting stuff might appear (blood, gore, violence etc.)
#3 - Appreciate the production of the movie itself. For example, consider the effort it took to create these realistic-looking sets, costumes, and props. Admire how the actors put their heart and soul into portraying the wicked and the brave.
#4 - Check the rating, and especially pay attention to the content warnings. Good friends should understand if you don’t want to watch something that contains certain yucky content.
So when it comes to good ol’ horror movies I think one of the biggest things you should do is be considerate. If you personally enjoy watching them and you know your friend doesn’t really want to watch them, take their feelings into consideration. If you were in their shoes, how would you feel? Take a moment to check whether or not a horror movie is a choice everyone in your group is comfortable with.
Everyone has their line, and everyone is different, and that is okay. For some people the intentional scares of a good horror give them the thrill or the high. For others it’s a thrill not worth seeking. Checking the rating, know Your rating
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