A ways back I had the fortune to do a review of Ju-On: The Grudge for UGO. For the most part it was a god awful game. The controls are monstrously bad, there is no replay value to speak of and the entire content of the game can be summed up as trial and error. That said, it’s also probably the game that has scared me the most in my life. A part of this is because I simply hate those creepy Japanese ghosts. Uggh, that throat rattle gets me every time. More then that though, it does manage to simulate that feeling of being alone in the dark with the dangerous unknown waiting behind the next door.
Because really as much as a clear knowledge of dangerous can be scary, the unknown can be worse. It’s what made Nemesis such an effective villain in Resident Evil 3. You never knew when he was going to show up, and generally it’s what makes life so terrifying at times.
I grew up pretty well afraid of everything. Most of my fears I could base in rational thought. I was afraid of roller coasters on account of how high they went. I was afraid of confrontation because it might negatively affect my relationships with those around me. I was afraid of girls because they might reject me and therefore validate my belief in myself being a loser.
Night time however, often brought out less intelligent fears. I would wake up convinced that spiders were crawling all over me. I would spend hours watching the flicker of far off planes, deathly sure that were about to drop a nuclear bomb on me. Atomic weapons were oddly a big fear of mine. I once even checked behind my thermostat because I was sure someone had planted one there while I was at school. So yeah, I was a pretty paranoid kid. You can blame it on all the violent movies I watched at that age. Heaven knows Fox News would.
Probably my biggest and most consistent fear was that some night, someone would break into the house with the intent of harming me and my family. I don’t know where it came from. I just knew that on those nights when the wind was wailing like some horror film cliché, my eyes were open and I was contemplating death with each new jitter and bump of the house.
The most effective way of tempering my fears was simply to tell myself that if anything did happen (at least at my Dad’s), that there was someone there capable of protecting me. Flash forward ten to fifteen years and I’m an adult. I’m married and living in my own apartment in a rural area. I’m not nearly as paranoid as I used to be, but often times I still wind up investigating the apartment at the behest of my wife at least once a night. Most times I just step out of bed with a groan, sweep the premises and head back to bed.
One night however as I made my back to the bedroom, I happened to glance down the stairs. There shrouded in shadow, I caught of glimpse of what looked like movement. I glanced about the room, counting all four of our cats. I peered down the stairs again and felt an old familiar chill. Outside, the wind blew, filling the air with the rustling of branches.
It was probably nothing, I knew. I had checked the doors and windows earlier to be sure they were locked. It wasn’t inconceivable for someone to break in, but I was confident I would hear any attempts at intrusion. Nonetheless, I knew I should check it out.
Remembering every stupid mistake made by most every cheerleader in every slasher flick ever made. I turned on the downstairs light. Then, slowly, carefully, my senses tuned to the room below I made my way down the steps. I tried to think of what I would do if there was someone or something (please not the Grudge girl!) downstairs. I couldn’t count on any parent or adult to save me. I was the adult, someday I thought, I would be the parent. I tried to imagine a child of mine looking up at me thinking my presence made them safe. It was bizarre. The last fight I was in occurred when I was in kindergarten. The other kid was a year younger and he still kicked my ass.
Arriving at the bottom of the stairs, I headed into the downstairs room. Flicking on the light switch, I took a turn around the room. I checked the nook next to the washing machine and in the closet. The fear passed, there was no in the house outside of my wife and our menagerie of pets.
I trekked back up the stairs and turned off the lights. Taking one last glance down the stairs, the shadows seemed to shift again. Shrugging it off I headed back to bed and lost myself in the cat’s snoring.