Monday, April 30, 2012

Teens and Horror - A Perfect Marriage

            When it comes to horror, Hollywood knows teens are an easy kill (pun intended).  Look how they flock to the theaters to spend an evening with Michael, Freddy, and the freaky Ring girl who lives in VCR’s.  And unlike their curmudgeonly, adult counterparts, teens don’t thumb their nose at sequels, especially when it comes the trinity of slice and dice: Halloween, Friday the Thirteenth, and Nightmare on Elm Street.  Compound that with their new penchant for torture porn like Saw, Hostel, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and it’s easy for us adults to shake our heads and go Hmmmm
            So why are teens so disproportionately attracted to the adrenaline rush?  Why the insatiable thirst for blood and guts? Reflecting back on one’s own adolescence, it’s clear why.
            There is an undeniable parallel between a horror and adolescence.  Imagine the monster and then imagine it being the angst of adolescence itself – a metaphor for all the anxieties associated with that six-year time gap between childhood and adulthood.  When teens watch horror, they live vicariously through the protagonist.  And while they writhe and scream in their seats, they’re experiencing a personal connection – their own need to survive and conquer on a deep psychological level. 
            Of course the odds are stacked against the hapless cast.  They will either succumb or conquer the Big Bad.  And just like Michael and Freddy, Adolescence comes after teens with a vengeance, leaving no prisoners.  It’s just they and Pubescence Personified alone in the Alley of Adolescence, like the blonde girl in Nightmare on Elm Street, running away pointlessly as Freddy runs his knife fingers up against the walls.  Parents can’t help.  Friends can’t help.  Even the environment is impotent.  Those safe confines of home, school, and the suburban neighborhood no longer protect.  Adolescence rules and hungers for the teenage immortal soul!  But with a little knowledge, skill, and courage, the teenage years can be dealt with sans the bloody sequel.    
            So next time you see the walking hormonal hoards lined up to see the next Paranormal 15, root for them!  After all, everyone wants to be the hero of their own adventure.