Dear Family Foxhole,
I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I’m twelve and do not like to watch the scary movies that my friends enjoy. Right now, if I go to a friend’s house and they want to watch something scary, I just say that I’m not allowed to watch PG-13 movies (which isn’t quite true; my parents let me watch some PG-13 movies but not others) and then we all roll our eyes and say that my parents ruin all our fun, then watch something else. But I’ll be 13 soon, so this lie isn’t going to work anymore!
How can I overcome my fear of scary movies so I’m not left out?
Before the party, suggest a list of movies for the party that provide your friends with enough choices that they don’t even realize that there’s nothing scary on the list. You could include some PG-13 movies that aren’t scary (comedies, romantic comedies, superhero movies).
Plan a party yourself! Pick a theme that is upbeat (“Surf’s Up!” or “Dinner is Served!”) and organize the food, decoration, games, and movie around that theme. You can set the expectation among your friends that parties will be fun and positive. If, later on, someone plans a party around a scary theme, just go for the first part (before the movie starts) and then tell them you have a super-important meeting in the morning (Be mysterious!) and need to get your beauty rest. You won’t be missing out on the fun since you wouldn’t be having fun anyway.
Creep out your friends by saying, “I can’t watch [whatever movie it is]. It brings back too many memories.” Then get a faraway look in your eye, then shake your head, like you’re trying to forget about that time a creepy girl crawled out of your TV to eat your face off.
Also, always bring a book wherever you go. Once the scary movie starts, just sneak away to read. If anyone catches you, just say that you thought that movie was boring. Be disdainful and give a big yawn. Try something like: “Once you’ve seen as many horror movies as I have, it’s hard to be surprised.” Be the stereotype of the disinterested, bored teen. Use it to your advantage, then get back to your book.
You don’t have to overcome your fear. Some adults don’t like scary movies. It’s not a sign of maturity. In fact, that you know yourself this well is a sign of maturity!
However, if you do want to join in, ask the title of the movie they’ll be watching before the party. Ask a parent to watch it for you and tell you about all the scary parts. If there is a certain kind of scary activity that you can’t stand (jump scares, gore, monsters, scary children, meanness to animals, etc.), be sure to tell them to be on the lookout for these things. Then watch it together. As a scary part approaches, stop the video and ask them to tell you what is going to happen. You might even watch it in fast forward to see what happens without the sound on.
I’m a grown-up, and I still watch any movies this way!