5 Films That Scared Me As a Full-Grown Adult, a story by Chris Dudley

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When you’re a kid, everything scares you. Bullies, report cards, closets at night, when you realize brussel sprouts are going to be served with dinner, the list goes on.

Being a fan of horror, I have found (like so many of us) that these first years of discovering what a horror film could truly be produced some of the scariest moments in my movie watching history. That said, I have realized later on that not all of these scares held up, and I have to preface why it scared me with some variation of “OK, I was 12 years old…“.

As we grow up, we’re chasing that dragon. The feeling in the theater of wanting to look away from the screen, but not wanting anyone to see you look away. That feeling of getting home after the film and wanting to turn the lights out as you walk through the rooms in an order, so that you don’t have to be alone in a dark room… being genuinely frightened.

Which leads me to this list. Here are five films that, I’m not afraid to admit, legit scared me as a full-on grown man.

Check out the full list on Horrorville here.

Inside

First of all, this film is outright horrifying. However, what affected me most was not necessarily the contents of the film, but the time in which I saw it. If you haven’t seen Inside, the premise is that there is a woman who is very, very pregnant (and very, very alone) when she encounters an intruder… and things go south from there. I first saw this film while on a tour across the country while my wife was at home very very pregnant (and very, very alone). This film is amazing, it’s horrifying, but watching it either as a pregnant woman or the husband to a pregnant woman is not recommended unless you are hoping to be scarred as an adult.

Paranormal Activity

That thing I said in the intro about turning off the lights as you go in your house as to not be alone in the dark? Definitely did that as a full-blown adult after seeing Paranormal Activity opening night. I will never forget being in the theater. Every time it turned night time, and the night vision cameras turned on, the uncomfortableness in the theater was palpable. So many people were doing that laugh that's not in response to anything humorous, but just to remind yourself it's all ok. I was part of that. Such a great movie going experience, and a genuinely frightening one.

The Descent

Ok, I admit I get claustrophobic. It takes a lot, but it happens. Until seeing The Descent, I hadn’t seen a film that adequately combined my love of horror and my absolute fear of just being stuck. The way this film builds tension with the gradual reduction of space for the characters is uncanny. Incredibly effective and to this day I still love watching (and being made uncomfortable by) this one.

[REC]

The idea of a quarantine movie takes a whole new meaning in 2023, but in 2007 it was just a horrifying possibility. This film is expertly crafted but I honestly can’t even put my finger on *why* it got to me so deep, but I was incredibly tense throughout and I’ll never look at a hazmat suit the same way again.

Hereditary

What more could be written about this film that hasn’t been? It’s masterly done, the performances, score, production design, and 100 other things are absolutely perfect if you ask me. I still remember the moment I was sitting in the theater watching that scene of Peter waking up… slowly. That lingering, static shot that, if you’ve seen the film, you know. To not spoil anything but about 15 seconds into this shot I realize there’s something else in the frame that I didn’t see before. I did that thing where I put my hand over my mouth and let out an audible “oh shit”. Immediate chills. Top tier stuff. 

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Chris Dudley is an American musician and composer who rose to prominence as a member of the band Underoath. Throughout his career, he has sold over a million albums, toured the world, and has four Grammy nominations. He has since transitioned to a successful career in film composing, winning several awards for his film work. Highly respected for his versatility as a musician and his ability to create compelling and emotive music, Chris continues to be highly sought-after in the film, television and video game industry, while still actively collaborating and performing in various projects in numerous musical genres. You can follow him on Letterboxd, Instagram, and Twitter, and check out his website at ChrisDudleyMusic.com.