Horror in the Time of Corona
Updated: Oct 8, 2022
It was a weird time.
That was a common refrain during the lockdown days of early 2020. The weird times brought sourdough starters and virtual happy hours with people you’d probably never go to happy hour with in the lovingly referenced “before times.”
For me, it brought horror movies. It didn’t happen right away. I, like so many, had relished having two weeks to work from home. Projects were agreeably pushed to wait for when things “got back to normal,” daily team meetings over Zoom were jovial as we all collectively shrugged in that “what’re you gonna do” way.
But the two weeks turned to three, three to six, and then came the undeniable feeling of being numb. Every day it took more to get out of bed and turn on my laptop. More emails flagged “to be read later,” and never responded to. Depression naps came like clockwork at 2:30 every afternoon and I had resigned myself to the fact that the end probably wasn’t anywhere near.
I’m not quite sure when it happened, the entire month of April 2020 is a blank space in my memory, but I remember sitting on my couch one night and deciding I needed to feel something. I scrolled past my algorithmically refined “For You” lists with their formulaic romcoms and true crime documentaries, and foraged through the horror movie catalog.
After ticking back and forth, debating how much emotional damage I wanted to inflict on myself, I decided to go all in and watch the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Now, this was well before I stumbled upon the Horror Virgin pod and their scary scale, but I was no stranger to the mythic proportions given to the scariness of this classic film. I clicked play and my heart started pounding. Could I handle this? Was I about to overcorrect out of my numbness and straight into emotional destruction?
Entire blogs could be written about the movie itself. The imagery and use of one’s imagination to scary the living shit out of people, the unlikableness of some characters (cough FRANKLIN cough), but what really stuck with me was the feeling I felt after the movie was done. Sally was in the back of a pick up truck cackling maniacally and I was on the couch feeling that same type of fizzy adrenaline kick. I had survived.
That was my first of many forays into the “darkness” and I started to consume all the horror media I could get my hands on; experiencing their horrors and chills for the first time. I was a junkie. I ventured out to our local Family Video (which stayed open until 2021, RIP) every other day with stacks of horror DVDs. I began to look forward to my evenings alone while my boyfriend worked second shift. After spending so much time being afraid of the litany of unknowns hurled at us by the pandemic, it was a relief to have a good reason to be scared. A tangible, identifiable threat as opposed to the unpredictable one permeating the real world.
I started to talk animatedly again to my friends and boyfriend about the movies I was watching; the deep dive spirals I had filled my hours with over this newfound fixation.
But there was a problem: my friends, my boyfriend especially, weren’t fans of horror movies. They’d listen to my ramblings and nod politely, but I wasn’t able to really TALK about them with anyone.
I think you know where this story goes… I was on the hunt for a podcast to scratch the horror movie itch. In addition to my nightly horror movie routine, I had also gotten into the habit of taking “hot girl walks” at our local park. During one of the podcasts in my regular rotation, they had an advertisement for the Horror Virgin. It was a sign.
I immediately, mid-walk, scrolled through the library of episodes and landed on the only one that made sense to hear first. And once again, in a delicious example of horror happenstance, I pressed play on “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” And away we went…