Make this movie not scary for me anymore... please... oh please...
February 18, 2010 8:22 PM   Subscribe

So I just watched a movie that has scared me and now I don't want to go to sleep because I think the aliens are going to abduct me. What do you do to get over the initial "OMG TERROR" reaction and irrational fearsfollowing seeing a scary movie?

My cousin and I have a tradition of watching scary movies whenever we hang out. It is a long standing tradition starting about 6 years ago when my grandfather died. Long story. Anyway, by now we've seen what feels like every scary movie on earth so it takes a lot to scare us but for some reason "The 4th Kind" really effed me up. Yes, I know, it is a terrible movie but I have problems with scary movies that deal with bad stuff happening while you sleep. (And yes, I am still reeling from "Paranormal Activity"...).

Anyway, I'm all freaked out and don't want to go to sleep. This "THINGS ARE GOING TO KILL ME IN MY SLEEP!" reaction usually only lasts a night (or 5 nights in the case Paranormal Activity...) after watching the movie. Sidenote: I am someone who gets nightmares fairly easily and has very very vivid dreams that I always seem to remember so every time we watch movies like this I am kinda effed up for a while.

So how do you get past the initial punch of fear and paranoia after watching a scary movie so that you can sleep? I've tried watching something silly like Spongebob Squarepants or Fairly Odd Parents to try to reinstate my innocence but it doesn't tend to work well. I also try to read something chipper before bed and preferrably fall asleep reading it to keep my mind off of "I'm going to die" thoughts, but that is only marginally successful and I still usually get the nightmares.

Any suggestions?

(ps - the answer is not "stop watching scary movies". Its our thing, it is how we bond.)
posted by gwenlister to Grab Bag (42 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Warm Ovaltine and a trashy gossip magazine.
posted by longsleeves at 8:31 PM on February 18, 2010

I watch a few episodes of something reassuring like Futurama.
posted by dunkadunc at 8:31 PM on February 18, 2010 [5 favorites]

i watch "making of" specials of the movie that freaked me out. seeing everyone half in costume with lights and microphones and gaffers and the scary props hanging lifelessly in the corner really helps shake me out of my suspension of disbelief. then some trashy reality tv right before bed.
posted by nadawi at 8:34 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Podcasts. I like Marketplace, because it's just Kai Ryssdal being blandly cheery about economics for half an hour.

I've got a pillow speaker so I can listen in bed, which also helps; I usually just fall asleep about 22 minutes in.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:35 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


This answer in particular has helped me:

This works with for both kids and adults, I think. Think about the production company coming up with the idea for the scary movie. Picture chubby guys in T-shirts playing with different prototypes for uncanny monsters, getting vetoed on a certain shape head or a certain pitch of voice, and trying to make it scarier. Imagine the writer of the internet story deleting scenes and trying to think of scarier ones, then getting up to get a cookie. In other words, remind yourself that these are objects constructed by ordinary people with good imaginations, not actual entities.
posted by prettaygood at 8:36 PM on February 18, 2010 [6 favorites]

read computer/iphone in bed until i pass out
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:39 PM on February 18, 2010

Watch them in the morning - it gives you the whole day to get over it.
posted by b33j at 8:42 PM on February 18, 2010

i watch "making of" specials of the movie that freaked me out.

Normally that helps, but this stupid movie has the whole "this is real, here are the actual recordings/video" aspect. I think that, on top of the whole things getting you when you sleep, is what is screwing me up.
posted by gwenlister at 8:43 PM on February 18, 2010

A good night's sleep usually does it for me.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:48 PM on February 18, 2010

I basically sleep with every single light turned on. Somehow, that helps.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:48 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

The point is that I can't sleep...
posted by gwenlister at 8:49 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

watching videos of kittens online!
posted by buka at 8:50 PM on February 18, 2010

As long as you aren't making a habit of it, a drink or two before bed can calm the nerves.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 8:51 PM on February 18, 2010

There is The UFO skeptics page. It specifically debunks some alien abduction stories. (And they are only stories. It doesn't really happen, you know.)
posted by longsleeves at 8:54 PM on February 18, 2010

Oh good! I'm not alone. Sometimes I try to go about it rationally - I try to talk myself out of the fear, bring up inconsistencies in the movie, tell myself "alien abductions don't really happen," that kind of thing. But sometimes...this is kind of goofy, and possibly not healthy/mature/stable/whatever, but I convince myself that I have special protection. When I go to bed, I close myself in my room and check in the corners and dark closets and everything and make sure nothing's there. I make sure not to lay with my back to the door or anything. And then I imagine that my blankets are a sort of shield. If I lay completely still, I'll be invisible and safe. For whatever reason, that tends to work pretty well for me.
posted by sigmagalator at 8:57 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Instead of watching something short like Spongebob, what if you watched a nicer movie that you could really get into and think about. A longer, deeper movie might get your brain switched off the bad track in a way that something short and manic and silly won't be able to. Because your brain doesn't have to stop what it's doing to think about it. I don't know what your taste in movies is and the only two I can think of that would work for me are "Bringing Up Baby" or "His Girl Friday". Maybe you can think of one that you know will make you think, really deeply, about something pleasant and/or funny. Or at least non-scary. Even if it doesn't work it'll occupy you for another 2 hours while you wait to fall asleep. I would also recommend a cup of Sleepytime tea and get yourself nice and comfy in case you start to drift off.
posted by amethysts at 9:00 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

watch an episode of Spongebob.
posted by robotot at 9:01 PM on February 18, 2010

You might be missing your immediate problem, which is that your body is all keyed up with adrenaline from watching a tense fight-or-flight situation unfold.

Forget about distracting yourself etc. -- just go take a hot bath and do whatever else is necessary to simply soothe your nerves. Sex is good. Candles are good. Something relaxing.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 9:02 PM on February 18, 2010

Think about the movie and twist it into an action movie in your head. I got nightmares as a kid after watching scary movies, so, if I woke up in the middle of the night, I would mentally "arm" myself before going back into the dream. Scary clown, meet chainsaw!
posted by benzenedream at 9:04 PM on February 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

MUSIC: Play a fun, upbeat album you enjoy.
posted by applemeat at 9:05 PM on February 18, 2010

Read some of the Christian Amish romances. They are so wholesome they will make you forget the scary stuff in life. I am non-religious and I find them oddly soothing. (Don't tell anyone I know this.) If you don't have an eBook reader, you can get the free Netflix reader and download the book to it.
posted by fifilaru at 9:05 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

comedy is the fear of terror
posted by artdrectr at 9:11 PM on February 18, 2010

Read something about the making of the movie. Did you know Paranormal Activity was made for only $15,000, and three different endings exist? And that it was written with a style of improvisation that's now called retroscripting?

See, now you're thinking about the movie intellectually, instead of emotionally.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:12 PM on February 18, 2010

I agree with the comment above. I always watch the "making of" or deleted scenes or something to really reinforce that it's only a movie.

That being said, after my wife and I watched 28 Days Later, we slept with a butcher knife near the bed, so YMMV.
posted by elder18 at 9:34 PM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

I have this problem all the time because I'm addicted to crime dramas. I get over this by telling myself that staying awake won't keep the aliens/ghosts/bad guys away, so I might as well get some sleep. I mean, really, what good does it do me to stay awake frightened all night when I could die sleeping peacefully? (that's what I tell myself anyway)

Believe it or not, it works for me. I dunno if it will work for anyone else 'cause my brain is wired funny, but I thought I'd throw it out there.
posted by patheral at 9:48 PM on February 18, 2010 [2 favorites]

Read comic books - does it for me every time.
posted by ORthey at 10:15 PM on February 18, 2010

Once after watching some late-night television that was a little too exciting for me, I turned over in bed and said to to Mr. Sculpin, "I can't sleep! I feel like the ninjas are going to crash through the ceiling and get me!" He replied sleepily, "Don't worry. The mice will get them." I was deeply impressed at his swift, brilliant grasp of dream logic -- slightly less impressed when I found out the next day that he'd been actually asleep at the time.

Imagining that army of anti-ninja protector mice worked for me where arguing logically with myself had failed. The trouble had been that I was a wee bit too imaginative for my own good in this case. Visualizing my loyal horde of warrior mice -- tiny knives clenched fiercely in their little mouths, a steely glint in each beady little eye -- turned my overactive imagination into an asset.
posted by sculpin at 10:39 PM on February 18, 2010 [4 favorites]

I play the Ghostbusters soundtrack while falling asleep. Not kidding.
posted by gmm at 12:24 AM on February 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

No joke, I read junk mail. Junk mail is utterly mundane, and it snaps me right out of any lingerings I might be having.
posted by Sutekh at 12:26 AM on February 19, 2010

You get nightmares easily and yet you still do it to yourself? Seems as if you enjoy it, just not the non-sleeping part. So I don't really expect anything to help you "get over it".

I would pick a time of day to watch these that gives you time to process the lingering flight or fight effects, exercise would help a lot. But exercising before bed is not helpful to sleep.

I am not sure if this will help. But I used to have recurring nightmares and used lucid dreaming to overcome them. Also you could try meditation, it could give you a more conscious control of your thoughts.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 1:04 AM on February 19, 2010

From Wikipedia: 'Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun Times said in his review that discovering that The Fourth Kind's plot was completely fictional was a "crushing disappointment."' So maybe that helped him.

That said, I find it so hard to get over the feelings of fear and graphic images of violence that I avoid movies like this completely, so I'm not the best person to help.
posted by StephenF at 2:36 AM on February 19, 2010

I'm the same way, except magnified. I was watching the intro to a Monk episode before turning off the TV to go to bed and a woman steps out of the shower and gets electrocuted. Nothing violent at all, but that stuck with me long into bedtime, freaking me out, until I got up to watch bad late-night sitcom TV to try to remove the recency in my mind. Make something else the last thing you watched and you may be fine.
posted by theraflu at 4:37 AM on February 19, 2010

Considering I was freaked out enough to not want to sleep alone after my boyfriend described (poorly, I might add) one scene from Paranormal Activity, I am the absolute opposite of an authority on the subject.

Having someone in the room with me fixes it, no matter how terrorized I was. If I'm alone, though, no amount of rationalization will help me for at least a couple nights.

Call a friend, talk to someone real and alive and non-alien, joke about how scared you are. Ask them to come over.
posted by lydhre at 4:45 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

I tell myself that this is evolution's way of saying "Hey, predators are here, watch out!!" I tell myself there is no real danger and understand that these movies exploit these ancient parts of the brain (fear response, etc). That usually puts me right pretty quickly.
posted by damn dirty ape at 5:52 AM on February 19, 2010

This was recommended to me when I saw The Ring, which kept me up for a few days -- remember the scariest scenes in the movie, and replay them in your mind as slapstick. Alien invaders? Imagine them being attacked by a chihuaua, slipping on a roller skate and falling down the stairs. Nothing defangs fear like broad physical comedy.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 9:51 AM on February 19, 2010

I had 28 Days Later nightmares and waking creeps right up until I saw Shaun of the Dead, which laid them to rest forever. So, I guess genre satire can be an antidote.
posted by stuck on an island at 10:49 AM on February 19, 2010

The warm body of someone you love a lot and who loves you is a great sleep aid, whether or not you do the deed.
posted by bearwife at 10:55 AM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

After a night spent in the High Octane Nightmare Fuel section of TV Tropes, I was very happy for the provision of some Sweet Dreams Fuel at the bottom of the page.
posted by hip_plumber at 11:48 AM on February 19, 2010

Like Pickman's, I was scared for a couple of weeks by The Ring. At the time, it was the first horror movie in a long time to really stick with me and scare me afterwards. It kind of fascinated me too so I went around the web looking up all I could about the movie. I also had to just tell myself that really, it's only a movie.

It might help you to know that as a teenager I was scared so easily that I couldn't watch movies like "My Boyfriend's Back," a comedy about zombies, but now, I absolutely love horror films. (But not torture porn like the Saw movies. I gave up after 3 of those. Probably should have given up sooner.)
posted by IndigoRain at 12:19 PM on February 19, 2010

1) Take a pill.
2) Don't sleep alone.
3) Get a dog.

But as I mentioned in the other post, I LOVE to feel like this and almost never do. It's unfortunate.
posted by coolguymichael at 1:44 PM on February 19, 2010

The answer is definitely sitcoms. My preference is The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. All fear melts away when Carlton breaks out into "It's Not Unusual."
posted by infinityjinx at 5:32 PM on February 19, 2010

I was watching 'Signs' late at night. There was a point in the movie that coincided exactly with some activity in the attic, critters. Needed a beer or 2 at that point. Lesson: keep some booze on hand.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 12:38 AM on February 21, 2010

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