I’ve been racking my brain for an entry today. I feel like I’ve hit a wall with advertising posts so far, and I can’t dedicate another entry to a video games as no one will read it. I really should take the time to actually come up with some sort of writing plan, or at least a little guide to make this easier on my self so I don’t feel rushed come 9pm. You see, I’ve had the entire weekend off, but I’ve done nothing ‘productive’. Actually, in my eyes, I’ve done something incredibly productive; I’ve spent a fantastic weekend with my girlfriend doing nothing except soaking up each others company, but in a work sense, yeah. Nothing. Nadda. Zip. I haven’t even played one video game this weekend. That’s actually a huge achievement in itself considering I bought Dead Space 2 yesterday!
Then it dawned on me, as I loaded the disc into the PS3 before quickly being told to take it out and pop a film on instead, that this game is going to do the same as the original Dead Space did. It’s going to have me on the edge of my seat, practically filling my pants with complete and utter fear, and I got to thinking; I hate being scared. I don’t like watching scary movies. I don’t like playing scary games. I especially don’t like the sense of dread I get after watching/playing something scary, so why in God’s name am I ready to jump straight into a game about psychological fear and endangerment. There must be a reason somewhere.
There have been a few films and games that have had a profound effect if we take into context the old, ‘shit your pants’, scale. We’re talking about me hitting the ‘Oh God, someone fetch me a new pair’ end. Obviously, for some of them, I just happened to be young enough to not entirely understand what the hell was going on, or to fathom that it was ‘just a movie’ or ‘just a game’. The others, well, they’ve just plain managed to weird me out, make me turn the game off due to the overbearing atmosphere, or actually effect me enough to be scared when the film/game was over. Here’s the three that stick out like ghostly apparitions of sore thumbs.
I guess we should start from the first time I remember being genuinely petrified. Event Horizon, for those of you who haven’t seen it, is a film about a spaceship that has been lost for decades, suddenly showing up in the middle of deep space. A crew go to explore what made the ship disappear, and find out that their worst nightmares await them. Sure, it’s in space, it can’t be scary right? Wrong. I watched this as a naive twelve year old, and I was mentally scarred for months. I could barely close my eyes, let alone sleep. I have a feeling this was one of the reasons I suffered from insomnia as a child, I mean, the movie still scares me to this day, so it was pretty stupid to watch it as a youngster. It’s a perfect example of setting an atmosphere, and managing to keep it going through out the entire film. In the film, the crew start to question what they find on the Event Horizon, and are slowly sent insane. The entire movie feels claustrophobic as the crew had no means of escape, forcing them to stay in the confines of literal versions of their nightmares. It’s hard to explain, so I’ll try to set a scene.
Picture yourself in a train carriage. A long train carriage with no one but you riding in it. It’s dark outside so the only source of light are the overheads. You are about one hundred metres from exits both in-front and behind you. The lights closest to both doors suddenly flicker and turn off. The bulbs in front of those slowly flicker and turn off. The bulbs in front of them slowly flicker and turn off. This happens slowly in about ten second gaps, until the only light that’s left is the one above your head. You know it’s coming, but you hope it doesn’t. You pray the one above you stays on. Click. The last remaining light above your head is extinguished by an unknown source. You are surrounded by darkness. You’re alone, and thoughts begin to fill your head. Your mind wanders to those thoughts you wish it wouldn’t; your worst nightmares. The thoughts you try to suppress on long, dark walks home. You’re beginning to focus on the worst of those thoughts, wondering if it’s going to happen to you. You’re hoping it doesn’t. You’re praying it doesn’t. You begin to wonder when, if at all, the lights will turn back on. You’ve been in the dark now for fifteen seconds, but it feels like a lifetime. You’re frozen to the spot, unable to move. You miss the light. You miss the safety and protection it brought. Flick. Salvation. The lights are back on. You’re alone, but at least you’re safe. Or are you? The only thing left to do is to turn around. Turn around to find your absolute worst nightmate staring right back at you….
So yeah, that’s how Event Horizon works. Kinda. Spoooooky right?
Ringu / Ringu 2: Return Of The Small Scary Girl With Shit Hair.
Ah The Ring movies. The Japanese versions of course! Again, I stupidly watched these when I was about 14. I can remember I was that age, as I had school the next day and rushed into Physics class in the morning with bags under my eyes, and a story of a Japanese film to tell my friends. A film that I forced them all to watch. A film that scared all of them as much as it did me. They didn’t speak to me for a while after that. I mean, I wouldn’t speak to me either! This is probably where I became a proper insomniac. I couldn’t sleep for more than an hour, months after watching the films. I think this is where my crippling need to fall asleep with a film/dvd/tv show on came from. Something I still do to this day! I mean, if there’s something on the channel already, then that stupid girl can’t climb out it!
I’m not going to explain The Ring movies, as you probably know how they go already. Basically, there’s a haunted video tape. If you watch it, you’ll die in seven days. It sounds anything but scary, but I will still never re-watch these films. I’m not stupid enough to do it. I think these two films had me the most scared I’ve ever been. I’m not too fond of creepy young girls with black hair any way, but undead, ghostly versions of scary young girls that can crawl out of my television set?! Fuck. That. I think I was so scared because I never fully understood the films what with them being subtitled and obviously on at such a late time, but the scene where the girl climbs out of the well, and then the scene where she chases the reporter up the side of the well will haunt me for years. I guess the whole ‘little girl’ thing is why F.E.A.R came so close to making this list. Stupid Alma.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
The newest edition to my list, and while it hasn’t plagued me with nightmares, or made me fear for my own life, it’s definitely the only video game I’ve had to turn off at fifteen minute intervals so I didn’t have a panic induced heart attack. This is the best example of a ‘scary’ video game I’ve ever had the pleasure of stumbling across. You’re a man called Daniel. A man with Amnesia (hence the title). You discover a letter written to you, from past you, telling you to go to the basement of the castle you are in, and kill a man named Alexander. Riveting right? You bet your soon to be brown-stained pants it is!
Perhaps one of the main selling points of the game is there are no combat mechanics. There’s no way to fight whatever you find! Most video games give you a huge arsenal of weapons to destroy anything scary you come across, but Amnesia gives you nothing. Your only hope of living is to run. Run and hide. Hide in the darkness, where your thoughts start to get the best of you. In the dark you start to go crazy. The more time you spend in the dark, the more strange noises and weird imagery you begin to see. You live on a supply of tinderboxes to light candles, and a lamp that runs on oil, but they’re in short supply. In the light, you might be safe from your own thoughts, but you can be seen by things you really don’t want to be seen by. I really can’t begin to describe or explain how good I thought think the game actually is, so here’s a little video to whet your appetite.
It’s a fantastic game for only £10 or so, and it’s definitely worth a purchase! I really don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll stop talking about it. There’s a demo available, so give it a spin! It’s literally the only game to make me shout ‘NOPE’, and then save and exit as quick as I could. It may be a popular meme at the moment, but it’s a meme for a reason.
Well, there you have it. Those are the three pieces of media that scare the shit out of me. Maybe you’ll recognise some, maybe you won’t. Why do I still play these games, or watch these films? I still don’t know, but at least I can tell other people about my experiences in the hope they do the same as me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an engineer to reacquaint myself with, and a space station to save.