Suspenseful movies aren’t my first choice, but I enjoy a good one now and then.
I remember the first time I saw M. Night Shyamalan’s movie Signs, back in college. In the early 2000’s Shyamalan was a master of suspense. He knew how to use your fear against you. I have no idea what I’d think of the movie today, but I remember being on the edge of my seat. There were these Aliens in the movie that were attacking people. It was really scary!
Until you saw the creature. I remember thinking, “well… that thing is kind of silly looking” And the movie lost its edge.
Up until that point, the monsters were always off screen— leaving their horror up to your imagination.
This is a trick that all good suspense films utilize: if the scary thing is off screen, the viewer’s imagination will inflate and magnify it. When you actually see and experience the thing, it’s not that bad.
Most of the fear we deal with has to do with some version of failure. We have a worst case scenario in our mind and at its worst, our fear makes us feel as though it will happen.