Anyone who knows me would tell you that I am a lover of all things horror but in reality, I’m a casual horror fan and just really hard to scare. I honestly don’t even know when my interest in horrors began but I can assure you that my mother forbidding me to watch anything even mildly horror related – just because I used to have night terrors, tch, such an overreaction – did nothing to stem my interest. She was an observant person though because at 8 years, I was such a wimp that whenever Batman: The Animated Series came on, I’d excuse myself to take a bath (that shit got really dark, really fast though) but I was front and center for Ghostbusters. I was a weird kid.
At the beginning it was simply the thrill of something forbidden; watching vampire movies in the middle of the night – before it was cool – and hoping no one caught me because that would have been the real horror. Somewhere along the way, I slipped from Courage the Cowardly Dog enthusiast to grinning as I read books of children getting PTSD from parental abuse and as a result manipulating, abusing, and eventually killing half the kids in their town before their brains blocked out the whole experience. That got really dark, really fast too, huh?
Anyway, you can imagine my glee then, when I got back from a 4 day scientific conference – man, scientists are not fun to hang out with – and found a text from the sweethearts over at 3D Cinema Magic in Naalya, Uganda, detailing their showing times. I mean every single person I have ever been attracted to never texted me back and even my own horror-forbidding-mother sometimes doesn’t text me back but these guys, these cinema guys always text back and that is why they have my heart. Anyway, somewhere on the list, there was a new movie I hadn’t seen the trailer for – trust me, that is a rarity – and I was curious so I did a quick Google search and found it listed in the horror movie section, with decent reviews no less.
I’m telling you, my heart soared and I did a little jig (internally, of course, no need for the airport security to think I was carrying contraband in my orifices). I quickly made plans to watch the movie that very evening.
Okay, perhaps I am more than just a casual horror fan when I think about it.
Anyway, the scariest thing about this movie was the asshole (yes, he was drunk but I happen to believe that one can be inebriated without being a total fucker, so this guy likely spews shit on the daily) who came in late and was speaking rather loudly to his fellows. We were few and scattered in the cinema, most people sitting at the ends of the rows (which was a good thing for me because if they shat their pants, I wouldn’t want to smell any of that) and as the movie went on, you could practically smell the nervous sweat in the air. Well, not really, because 3D Cinema Magic keeps their halls nice and cool, so no sweating (and no, they don’t pay me for this, though they really should). People got really scared though and I’m almost sure the ass did shit himself from his actual hole.
The only emotion the movie elicited out of me though was mild amusement.
It was nice enough, with good jump scares and all but see – and this is where I get to the point, finally – what actually caught my attention was the metaphor of depression that they worked into the movie. The whole plot revolved around this monster that only manifested in the dark (and disappeared when the lights were turned on). The monster, named Diana, is a “friend” of a depressed mother (due to some rather vague backstory) with two kids and gets stronger as the mother’s depression worsens. Now, Diana doesn’t give a shit and does what she wants, as evidenced by killing the mother’s 2 husbands and trying to kill her 2 children as well.
This struck me because I agreed with their depiction of depression wholeheartedly; depression is a monster that pervades and drives away those closest to you. After the movie, I was interested to see what people thought of the metaphor and I found numerous articles condemning the movie for portraying depressed people as burdens to their families and that all this goes away when the depressed person dies. You see, the mother – in a moment of clarity – found that she couldn’t defeat Diana and instead of letting the monster create havoc, she shot herself in the head, reasoning that Diana couldn’t exist without her. Oh and the online reviewers had a field day with the depiction, saying that the movie was basically telling all depressed people to commit suicide so that their families can be free of them.
But I disagree.
After 3 years down this dark path, I think I can speak on the subject (and if I can’t, sorry, because I’ve already written numerous articles on this shit) and in my experience, the depression I’ve struggled with drove 80% of my friends away and ruined most of my personal relationships. I am now that person who’ll go to a gathering, talk to people about their darkest fears, and then leave without taking anyone’s contact or giving mine out. My logic tells me that I have 3 friends and that I don’t need more. I look on happily as people around me settle down and have kids but I’m really just fine with going back to an empty house and battling my Dianas alone (when I need company, I’ll send out a bugle call for single dudes looking for nothing more than sex).
That’s my personal life and when I saw this woman having conversations with her darkness as her child looked on in horror, I felt it deeply because I have peered into my own tar-filled soul and decided it was better to befriend it. I thought it nice to ask it to a cup of coffee every once in a while so we could get to know each other better. When I saw this woman decide to take her antidepressants so she could manage Diana and her darkness better (though Diana foiled this plan, of course), I remembered the nights I spent clutching at my skin, trying to convince myself that I needed to see a psychiatrist.
The woman’s children fought for her and refused to abandon her and she made them promises that she’d get better and things would improve; it was like I was watching scenes from my own life. When the mother finally decided to shoot herself in the head and save her daughter from being killed, I remembered my own thoughts that the darkness within me is weighing down those I care about most. Surely, surely it’d be more prudent of me to end my pain and theirs as well. This woman didn’t want to die but she’d suffered enough and couldn’t bear it anymore; couldn’t bear the thought of her kids dying because of her. I think that her decision to commit suicide to save them was one that was based on her reasoning and well, logic is the first thing to take a hit when depression hits.
Her daughter was devastated when the mother died and didn’t really care about the fact that the monster had disappeared. She screamed and cried; not that soft, beautiful crying mind you, ugly my-face-has-turned-into-a-melting-rubber-mask crying. The mother’s suicide might have destroyed one kind of darkness but it created another.
It’s been a long piece and yet I haven’t gone into proper details, but that’s really just me and my verbosity. I’ll say this to any depressed person who might be reading: you’re not alone; don’t struggle alone. Depression kills in a thousand different ways, please, don’t go down silently; let us fight together.
And now, I’ll leave you with David Foster Wallace:
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of “hopelessness” or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window checking out the view, i.e. the fear of falling remains constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames; when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s the terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘don’t!’ and ‘hang on!’ can understand the jump; not really. You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”