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How to introduce your partner to the horror genre this Halloween

Why should you introduce your partner to your beloved horror genre? It is common knowledge that, in order for a relationship to work, both parties need to be able to understand each other. This understanding comes from getting to know each other in the good and the bad times. Luckily, there is a very simple way to better comprehend how our partner works: sharing your favourite things with them.

This can include your hobbies, favourite music and food, your interests and, of course, the things you like to watch. If you are here, it is because you are a horror lover with a not-so-into-horror partner or friend that you want to introduce to the genre. And let me tell you, it can be challenging. Nevertheless, it is not impossible, and if you’re reading this article you’re a step closer to enjoying your favourite genre with your favourite person.

Ghostface attacking Casey (Drew Barrymore) in the first scene of Scream (1996).
Fig. 1. Ghostface attacking Casey (Drew Barrymore), or hugging her very tightly (?).
Source: Scream (Wes Craven, 1996).

Most partners will watch whatever you want to watch out of love, but that is only a temporary solution to your problem. To be able to enjoy horror as a couple with no one feeling like they’re making a sacrifice, you need to choose your films and timing wisely.

Now, without further ado, these are the 6 most effective ways to introduce your partner to horror this Halloween:

Begin with horror parodies

Sometimes the best way to introduce horror to a person is through laughter. I can confirm from personal experience that watching a horror film after watching its parody makes the experience completely different from doing it in reverse. Yes, you will still be scared with the jumpscares and tension moments, but otherwise you’ll be laughing like crazy!

That was my experience when watching Signs (2002) after Scary Movie 3 (2003). The intensity of the film is completely lost, but scenes you wouldn’t normally pay much attention to become hilarious gags without even trying.

Brenda (Regina Hall) fighting Tabitha (Marny Eng) in Scary Movie 3, a great movie to introduce your partner to the horror genre.
Fig. 2. Brenda (Regina Hall) fighting Tabitha (Marny Eng) in one of the best horror parodies ever made. Source: Scary Movie 3 (David Zucker, 2003).

I remembered this experience and decided to test it with my partner. Needless to say, I enlisted the help of the Scary Movie franchise. He absolutely loved the first three instalments (I haven’t shown him the rest because, let’s be honest, they are a bit rubbish). Plus, he asked a lot of questions as to how similar the parodies are to the real thing. This experience sparked his curiosity and got him used to the idea of jumpscares and the common lack of logic that terror is known for.

Something as simple as watching a parody can spark an interest in horror that might turn your partner into a true fan, so give this strategy a try and let me know how it worked for you!

Watch with them a film they are curious about

It mostly happens with classics. In my case, my partner was curious about The Shining (1980). Granted, it is psychological horror, not the usual jumpscare stuff, and has arguably lost a bit of pizazz over the years. However, if the opportunity arises where your partner tells you that they are curious about a horror film, feed that curiosity.

A little child called Danny (Danny Lloyd) driving his tricicle around the hotel Overloook.
Fig. 3. Danny (Danny Lloyd) driving his tricicle around the hotel Overloook.
Source: The Shining (Stanley Kubrik, 1980).

Just having an excuse to spend some time together is a good enough incentive for them to give it a try. Propose watching it together. If neither of you have seen it, what a great experience to share! And if you have watched it already, you can decide if it is a good movie for them to begin their journey into horror or if maybe another film similar to it would be more suitable and enjoyable for them. It’s a win-win situation, so do seize the opportunity!

Pick a film with their favourite actor/actress in it

This option follows what I like to call the “Friends effect” (don’t know if it’s trademarked, but it should). Friends (1995-2004) make a lot of people feel calm and happy, especially if they grew up in the 80s and 90s. This is because familiar things make you feel comfortable, cosy, at ease.

A group of people are having a chill Halloween costume party at a house.
Fig. 4. Scene from Friends: The One with the Halloween Party (S08E06).
Source: Friends (Marta Fran Kauffman and David Crane, 1995-2004).

A horror film can be a pretty challenging experience for someone who isn’t used to watching them, so it makes sense to try and add something familiar to the experience. If your partner knows part of the cast and they are familiar with their acting, they will feel a sense of insight and awareness despite being in a completely new situation for them. This will ease them and make the scary parts a little less scary.

Adding some familiarity

The best way to go about this is to make a mental list of the actors and actresses they admire. If you have a goldfish memory like me or simply don’t know much about those artists, do a quick IMDb research to check if they appear in any horror films. From the options you come up with, choose the movie you think they’ll enjoy the most and let the magic happen!

A woman in a top hat meditating on top of a caravan at night.
Fig. 5. Rose the Hat (Rebecca Ferguson) concentrating to find Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran). Source: Doctor Sleep (Mike Flanagan, 2019).

I’ll share my experience as an example. In my case, the choice was pretty clear: combining their love for Rebeca Ferguson with their curiosity for The Shining, it had to be Doctor Sleep (2019). While it is not the most horrifying film, it is quite dynamic and has great aesthetics. These are characteristics to which my partner pays a lot of attention, so the decision was a no-brainer.

Do not get discouraged

Even if the actor/actress you have chosen doesn’t look promising in the field of horror, research them. Most actors have at least one horror movie in their filmography. It is usually at the very beginning of their career, which makes the movie even funnier to watch!

Plot-twist endings

The plot-twists and the general feeling of lacking a key piece of information during a film enhance the importance of the story over that of the scare factor. This hierarchy can make watching a film more enjoyable for someone who isn’t into horror as much. Knowing that there is a mystery or a plot twist they won’t see coming builds excitement and interest.

A kid in a hospital bed listening to his psicologist. Scene from The Sixth Sense.
Fig. 6. Cole (Haley Joel Osment) in a hospital bed listening to Malcolm (Bruce Willis). Source: The Sixth Sense (M. Night Shyamalan, 1999).

They can focus on their theories of what’s going on and you’ll have fun playing guess during the movie. Horror is sometimes more of a dramatic tool to enhance the experience of investigating and trying to figure out what’s going on. Just encourage them to embrace their inner sleuth and have fun with it!

When your partner is a sucker for logic

In addition to this, if your partner is one of those people who likes logical, coherent stories –as it is, sadly, my case—, there might be a high chance of them not liking regular horror since, let’s face it, it is usually not very rational. Some behaviours or actions don’t make sense and this can make them lose interest quickly despite the typical horror-induced tension.

A woman with her small son and daughter holding a candelabre in the darkness of her house.
Fig. 7. Grace (Nicole Kidman) introducing her children Anne (Alakina Mann) and Nicholas (James Bentley) to the new workers of the house in a totally not creepy environment.
Source: The Others (Alejandro Amenábar, 2001).

For those of you who are in the same position that I am, films like The Others (2001) and The Sixth Sense (1999) are a great choice. They are full of clues that are being thrown at you until the end and everything makes sense because otherwise the plot twist could not happen, a “final explanation” would be impossible. So if your partner considers logic a must, give these films a chance, they will love them!

Mix genres

This method follows the same principle as the plot twists and the parodies: to divert the attention from the horror part and combine it with another type of content to smooth it out. Other than parodies, you can try with comedy and horror, like The Addams Family (1991), Prevenge (2016) or 12 Hour Shift (2020); or mystery and horror, like A Haunting in Venice (2023) or Sherlock’s special The Abominable Bride (2016); or science fiction and horror, like Species (1995), Event Horizon (1997) or Alien (1979).

A woman dressed as a bride pointing her shotgun at her husband while a policeman watches.
Fig. 8. Emelia Ricoletti (Natasha O’Keeffe) about to shoot her husband Thomas Ricoletti (Gerald Kyd). Source: The Abominable Bride (Paul McGuigan, 2016).

The key is to choose the genre they like the most and think about a film that adds horror to that genre. That way they can get the best of their favourite themes while also experiencing the thrills added by horror. The familiarity that the first genre brings softens the intense emotions of the second.

A nurse with her face covered in blood looking nervous and guilty.
Fig. 9. Mandy (Angela Bettis) covered in the blood of a corpse she’s been stealing organs from. Source: 12 Hour Shift (Brea Grant, 2020).

If you need help with a specific mix of genres, do not hesitate to contact me for advice by commenting below this article or DMing me on Instagram. I would love to help as much as I can!

Make it a special occasion

Creating a whole experience around watching a movie will make you and your loved ones connect the memory of being together enjoying a situation to that film or genre. For example, a Halloween date or a friends gathering, with some nice food and a beautiful, possibly thematic, setting, will make everyone associate Halloween to that special moment and horror films to a fun way of enjoying time with your partner, family or friends.

A bunch of food on a table and Scream (1996) playing in the background.
Fig. 10. First secuence from Scream (1996) playing in the background behind a table of food and snacks.

Simply choose a film you think they will all enjoy. Then, pick some recipes and themed decorations or games. It doesn’t have to be anything extra and you don’t need to put in lots of hours to prepare. Some simple sandwiches, or popcorn, or any other snacks you know they like will suffice. In under an hour you can create a lovely environment that will forever be connected to the film you watch together!

Now that you know all the different strategies that I have tried and succeeded with my stubborn but patient not-so-into-horror partner and the results I have achieved, which method will you try? Do you already have a plan in mind? Has this article inspired you to create your own strategy?

If you think or have tried any other way to introduce your partner to horror please do not hesitate to share your own experiences with me in the comments below or through social media! Getting scared is always better in company, the road to horror shouldn’t be walked alone if not by choice.

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