The Fear Factor

Hello, I’m Leah G. Alfonso. I write so that I may speak.

Hard truth: We, the people, can be pretty stupid. No matter how much we’ve learned about the many aspects of the world or how many years of school we can get under our belts, there will still be sporadic moments where someone will do something incredibly foolish. This knowledge serves as something that I relearn every time I watch a horror film. This past summer, the flick of senseless brain destruction that I engaged in was the miniseries based on Stephen King’s book of the same name, It. And seeing as we’re at Halloween, I find it fitting to talk about fear and the movie of bad CGI, over-the-top acting, and Tim Curry dressed as a McDonald reject from Pee Wee’s house of horrors. Disclaimer: There will be a few light spoilers. If for some bizarre reason you want to see the movie for yourself, please don’t read this until you have.

I’m not someone who watches horror movies out of habit, and I definitely don’t read Stephen King fiction. The movie didn’t freak me out at first glance. In practice, the miniseries was pretty terrible. Really, the only scary thing was the clown—but I don’t like clowns anyway. Tim Curry was unbelievably entertaining even in a clown suit, I’ll give him that. But the monster was inconsistent. It had plenty of opportunities to eat the children, and it didn’t take advantage of any of them. I know that it’s just popping up out of nowhere to scare the children out of their wits before eating them—evidently, that’s like salting the meat. But that still creates a plot hole because it killed at least two children without scaring them for two months.

So why did I find the movie so scary? Well, aside from being a clown, I thought that the monster was scarier in theory than it was in practice. What it’s capable of, in comparison to what it does, is absolutely terrifying when you think about it. It can transform into anything, pop up out of anywhere, and attack you in broad daylight without getting caught. It can travel through pipes, come out of the sink, and even pop up out of the drain in the middle of the shower. The fact that children could see it—and not adults—was also a factor. If you can see a monster that your parents can’t, you don’t have a prayer.

Even though the movie didn’t really work, what I think it succeeded in doing was touching on the power of fear, and how fear is really the only thing you need to be afraid of. Curry’s quote in the middle of the movie shows that the monster is supposed to be a representation of fear: “I’m every nightmare you’ve ever had. I’m your worst dream come true.” And each of the seven main characters had a different reaction to fear. One stayed behind for thirty years to keep an eye out for the monster, despite the many risks he was taking. Five came back to face it, while another decided to end his life so that he didn’t have to carry the burden anymore. Almost all of the characters thought about leaving town in order to escape the monster—except for Bill. From the very beginning he was the one who wanted the monster dead. Because of how much he loved his brother—one of the monster’s victims—he wouldn’t rest until that desire became a reality.

Even in the realm of reality, the world is a scary place. There’s terrorism, clowns, natural disasters, poverty, greed, and so many other things I could mention that I don’t blame people for being afraid of. But if we want to live fully for Christ, we need to be able to recognize what’s important and trust that all will be worth it in the end. The reason fear is the only thing we need to be afraid of is because fear can prevent us from doing what’s right. And I know I used this Princess Diaries quote before, but I’m going to use it again to illustrate my point: “Courage is not an absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is far more important than fear. The brave may not live forever, but the cautious do not live at all.” Do not fear, for the Lord is with you. Be not afraid, for he is your God. He will strengthen you and give you help. He will uphold you with his righteous right hand. If there’s anything I take away from the miniseries after a few months of looking back on it, it’s that. And if it takes a Stephen King miniseries to remind me that God’s the one in charge…well, at least it wasn’t something as freaky as The Exorcist.

Until next time, this is Leah G. Alfonso saying “Happy Halloween.”

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