Movies Scarier Than My Family

Glassy eyes, grainy footage and Louisiana combined don't make The Last Exorcism spooky enough

I absolutely love to scare people. Hiding in closets. Hiding around stairwells. Waiting for that perfect moment for you to walk by so that I can jump out and scream. Just thinking about that nervous, giggly anticipation fills me with immense joy.

No one is safe. Not my friends. Not my family. Not even my dog. (There’s a good chance that this is the reason she’s continually flinchy & twitchy around me.)

I blame my family for this character trait. Specifically my brother and father. While I was growing up, they constantly tried to outdo each other. There is a legendary Mettey family story where my brother hid in the shower for hours (well, it was probably just a few minutes; the time frame has lengthened through the years) — lying in wait for my dad. My dad went to use the bathroom. My brother grabbed my dad’s ankle. My dad tossed my brother across the room. I think my dad rated it a 9 out of 10 (their scoring scale of scares).[SIGNUP]

Yet for how much I love to scare people, I hate to be scared. I love haunted houses, but am traumatized the moment I walk in. I love scary movies, but have to prop up my knees to cover half of the screen.

So as Halloween gets closer and closer, and as the temperature starts to get a fall-ish nip in the air, I really wanted to see a scary movie this past weekend. The Last Exorcism (PG-13) seemed the perfect choice.

It’s a pretty ingenious premise. Cotton Marcus, a Louisiana evangelical minister who has begun to lose his faith, wants to expose the fraud that is exorcism. Before quitting his church and getting a job in health insurance, he invites along a film crew on his last exorcism in order to demonstrate how they perpetrate the hoax. Choosing a request at random, he and the film crew descend into the deep Louisiana country and meet a girl who may or may not be possessed.

While the faux-documentary is becoming a bit trite (especially following on the heels of last year’s Paranormal Activity), it is actually an effective medium for this movie. The quiet, darkness, and slightly grainy footage pull you into the Louisiana house. The tension steadily builds until you are not sure who to trust and who is lying. However, at no time did this really cross over into scary. It’s more suspense than horror. (I never had to cover half of the screen with my hands or knees.)

Ashley Bell, who plays the possibly possessed Nell Sweetzer, is aptly able to do the scary eyes and body contortionist thing that seems mandatory for all modern possession movies. But the one actor who made my skin crawl is Caleb Landry Jones as Caleb Sweetzer. (I don’t like that that is his name, either.) His eyes are glassy, he seems slightly crazy, and he could just as easily hug you or stab you. In other words, he’s the perfect Deliverance-like character for this film.

I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of this movie — right up to the disappointing end. The coda is utterly disappointing … and somewhat laughable. It made my friends and I discuss how it should have ended.

So despite a promising cast and premise, The Last Exorcism only scores a 7 on the Mettey Scare Scale. (In theaters.)

My Grade: C+

What is the scariest movie you have ever seen? Was it a horror movie or just a suspense film? Was it something you saw as a child that kept you up at night? Was it something that, to this day, makes you look over your shoulder? I want to know what it is. And why.

On Fridays throughout October (in preparation for Halloween), I’ll be counting down my picks for the scariest movies of all time … until we get to #1 on Friday, October 29th.

So whether it’s a horror movie, a thriller, or Sex and the City 2, now’s your chance to let me know what should be on the list. I’ll be watching Friday Movie Blog comments this month for your suggestions starting today.