With Halloween approaching, we round up the best life lessons from our favourite scary films and TV shows.
Horror films have always had the capacity to teach us important lessons and prepare us for the worst possible situations. If a stranger calls you up and tells you to look outside the window, it’s probably best not to. If you hear a funny noise in your basement, and you’re alone and it’s night-time, venturing into the darkness with a quivering “Hello?” is a sure-fire way to get yourself killed.
The past ten years have given us a multitude of original, innovative and creepy af horror films and TV shows, each with their own stellar advice on offer. We round up the best life lessons from our fave on-screen terrors…
Jennifer’s Body: never trust an indie rock band
This may sound harsh, but if Megan Fox’s queen bee cheerleader Jennifer had simply not left the dodgy bar that night with Low Shoulder, the band who happily sacrificed her to the devil in exchange for a life of fame and fortune, her descent into possessed cannibal-demon could’ve been avoided. Seducing boys to feast on their flesh, Jennifer can only be defeated when she’s hungry, as her awkward best friend Needy finds out before successfully stabbing her to death and subsequently being placed in a mental asylum. Released 10 years ago this year, Karyn Kusama’s masterpiece is still one of the most provocative examples of a female-led horror film, so we’re kind of glad Jennifer didn’t take our advice on this one.
It Follows: stay celibate
This one’s pretty extreme, but it’s basically the only way to avoid the fate that the characters in It Follows experience. When a group of teenagers realise that being infected by an STD-style affliction is causing them to be stalked by a terrifying entity constantly following them until they reach and kill them, they don’t stop having sex with each other, but they probably should. Then again, if they had, we wouldn’t have had one of the most unnerving, captivating and beautifully shot horror films of recent years.
Hereditary – don’t stick your head out the window of a moving car
This one might seem pretty obvious, but it’s advice that Hereditary’s Charlie (Milly Shapiro) should probably have taken. While having an anaphylactic shock, Charlie leans out of the window for some air, but ends up being decapitated by a telephone pole instead. To be fair, every character in Ari Aster’s explosive debut meets a pretty dire end, and Milly’s early death meant she didn’t have to experience the bizarre coven rituals that come later on, but it’s probably best just to not try anything you see in the film at home.
Us – kill your creepy doppelganger if you see them
When a family that looks exactly like your own – except the daughter has no eyebrows and a creepy smile, the son has burns on the bottom half of his face, the mum talks in a terrifying, strained and breaking voice and the dad can only communicate by grunting – turns up outside your house, don’t hesitate before taking action. In other words, don’t run away (your doppelgänger will outrun you), don’t threaten them with a baseball bat (they’ll use it to break your leg) and don’t let them tell you their life story (you might end up feeling sorry for them instead). Sure, Lupita Nyong’o’s Adelaide and family get the better of their ‘tethered’ lookalikes in the end, but they’d have saved themselves a lot of hassle if they’d taken initiative before they had the chance to enter their home.
A Quiet Place – if in doubt, keep your mouth shut
In a post-apocalyptic world where you know you’ll be hunted by blind, relentless monsters with a supernatural sense of hearing if you so much as cough, it’s probably not the best time to have another baby. As Lee (John Krasinski) and Evelyn (Emily Blunt) find out when their due date arrives, giving birth in a bathtub without pain relief, stifling screams until fireworks are set outside to cover the noise, is not fun. Then there’s the slightly inconvenient problem of having to keep a newborn baby quiet when one feeble cry will likely get the whole family killed.
Black Mirror – when it comes to technology, be afraid… very afraid
Every episode of Black Mirror offers its own individual life lesson, from steering clear of memory-replaying brain implants to never leaving your DNA-infested lollipop anywhere near your creepy colleague. But the overarching lesson to be learned from Charlie Brooker’s dystopian series is to be very, very wary of technology. Whether it’s a new iPad that lets you block disturbing images from your daughter’s vision, a company that recreates your late husband in robot form or an app that uses Uber-style ratings to determine your socioeconomic status, Black Mirror’s life lessons are so affective that you always want to throw your phone as far away from you as possible after an episode.
Midsommar – dump your shitty boyfriend
If you’re already considering breaking up with your emotionally unavailable, useless boyfriend of three-and-a-half (or four) years, and then he begrudgingly invites you to a festival in Sweden with his equally shitty friends, you should probably just stay at home. Sure, you might finally feel the emotional warmth that you’ve been longing for in the form of a drug-experimenting, wailing cult, but you’ll experience some pretty harrowing rituals in the meantime. Bonus life lesson: in the pastel-hued, pastoral world of Midsommar’s Hårga community, if you need the toilet, it’s best to stay away from any ancestral trees.