Hauntings, horror, and hidden gems: The power and practise of facing your fears

(Courtesy of Riddhi Jani)

As I pressed further into the building, all I could see was darkness. Not one beam of light shone from the invisible cracks in the room to illuminate my view and guide my path. My own eyes could not tell if they were blinking, as they relied solely on the ever so brief moment of intention or disparity to feel each lid touch the other — each blink bled into the next as there was no separation from sight and blindness. 

The more I walked forward the farther I got from my friends, who were kind enough to hold hands with each other but not with me. The walls began to close in on me as I pondered, “Am I claustrophobic?” Was this a new fear I was discovering the hard way? Am I really in some twisted, horror-filled version of the trash compactor on the Death Star? 

No. I was just walking into a corner. 

Shortly after laughing and verbally noting how I just walked into a wall, my friends called out for me, saying I went the wrong way. We quickly found our way towards each other as the three of us journeyed through the haunted house together. But how did I get here?

Horror has always been a part of my life, or so I like to think. My parents both love the genre and introduced me to cheesy and not-so-scary horror movies when I was pretty young. It wasn’t until I graduated high school where I started to appreciate the genre on a new level. And honestly, it was difficult. 

As a kid, I grew up fearing nearly every animated movie Tim Burton was involved with — even now, those large eyes and tiny pupils still send shivers down my spine. Every time my family would sit down to watch a scary movie, I’d spend most of my time hidden behind the covers playing on my Nintendo DS as I overheard everybody scream in terror. I still remember that time at my friend’s house where we had to stop watching Insidious because of that one jump scare — you know exactly what I’m talking about. At the time, the fear was too unbearable. 

Now that horror is one of my favourite genres, I’ve discovered so many new methods of storytelling I never knew existed. The movie Trick ’r Treat — yeah, the one I wrote about a few days ago — showed me that horror films can foster some of the greatest writing techniques to hit the big screen.

But if I never took that step into facing my fears, I would never know how fascinating and exhilarating they can be.

So, I implore you. If you have a fear (that isn’t dangerous and potentially life-threatening — again, stay safe out there, kids) then face it. Afraid of snakes? Go to the zoo, check out the snakes, maybe ask if you can hold one. Afraid of spiders? Try not to panic when you see one looming in the corner, maybe try to pick it up to take it outside (violence is never the answer). Afraid of flying? Well, the ‘holding one analogy’ doesn’t quite work here, but you can get on a plane and hold a drink as you ride. Afraid of horror movies? Start with something light, like The Faculty, which may or may not be a personal favourite.

In some way or another, when I walked into that haunted house at Screemers, I faced my fear that night. Which fear exactly? I’m not sure — it’s hard to pick between the neverending darkness, the claustrophobia, the unknown, or just being alone. If I knew a series of haunted houses would open so many doors, I would’ve done it sooner.

About the Author

By Jonathan Q. Hoidn

Copy Editor

copy@excal.on.ca

Jonathan is a Canadian multimedia writer and editor who has a passion for storytelling. Despite his preference for writing poignant and humorous tales, Jonathan loves to challenge himself with new topics, mediums, and perspectives. When Jonathan isn’t editing articles, you can find him tackling his backlog of movies, TV shows, video games, and comics; being the nerd of the group; writing down jokes that come to him in the middle of the night; watching the Raptors game; planning out several screenplay details in the seemingly endless “Story Ideas” folder; staring into the void; walking his dog (which is notably the cutest in town); looking into the camera, breaking the fourth wall; and hunting down that pesky little radioactive spider.

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