Night Terrors

By: Michael “Mitch” Mitchell (horror alum)

Horror can mean different things to different people. For most, horror in the classic sense is sitting around and watching scary movies — the films that feature the inhuman, the supernatural, and all manner of evil in between. For some, horror is reading a book that they can’t put down, while still being afraid to turn the page. But with horror becoming more and more prominent, people are trying to find new ways to scare and be scared.

One of these ways has been finding new methods of storytelling. 2007’s Paranormal Activity jump-started the found-footage genre, while video games have evolved over the years from psychological horrors like the Silent Hill games to more action-heavy survival-horror titles like the latter Resident Evil games. Somewhere in between those, though, is the upcoming augmented-reality game, Night Terrors.

mThe game, which utilizes your cell phone’s different features to create its experience, turns your own home into the setting of its story. The idea is that you’re playing the game with all the lights off and your headphones in while holding the phone in front of you to progress through the game. If you’ve ever seen someone playing Pokémon GO with the AR feature on, it’s kind of like that!

As you walk through your home, the game maps your environment to detect where walls, ceilings, and the like are. In doing so, it can create effects such as paintings falling down the wall or rubble falling from the ceiling above you. It also uses this to guide you through the story itself, leading you room-to-room in order to save the little girl who’s being trapped by malevolent entities. On your way there, your camera’s light will occasionally flash, creatures will jump out at you, and you’ll hear all kinds of strange noises that you can’t help but feel are actually there.

This last part is especially important — the game’s creators have gone a long way to make a binaural experience that elevates the sound being background noise. There is a directionality to the sound; if something sounds like it’s coming from your left, it’ll get louder as you turn and get closer. Listening to the sound is a big part of the puzzle, as the game asks you to do what instinct tells you not to: Follow the haunting noises.

It’s hard to put into words just exactly how scary the use of sound can be. If you’ve never experienced something that uses three-dimensional sound, you’re in for a (scary) treat. At one point during my play-through of the demo, a little girl whispered in my ear and I actually turned because my body knew where the sound was coming from. At other times, I heard noises growing louder and tried to aim my phone as close to the edge of my periphery as possible, for fear of what I knew was inevitably coming.

If you’re a fan of horror, you’ll want to give this game a try. It asks you to fully immerse yourself in the experience, and if you’re willing to do so, it’s guaranteed to scare. The full version will be out on Halloween, but if you’re eager to give it a test run, there’s a demo available as well. I wasn’t sure what to expect the first time I gave it a try, but I definitely wound up more scared than I expected to be.

But that’s part of the fun — finding new ways to enjoy horror, finding what does or does not scare you, and letting yourself kept swept up within an environment created to scare. And the best part of Night Terrors is that the environment is whatever familiar location you choose it to be — your apartment, your basement, your dorm… your choice!

(Below is a slideshow of some pictures Mitch took while playing the game.)

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Main Street Emporium

By: Kelsey Mannarino

Ever since I was a senior in high school I have worked at Greenfield Village, which is part of The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The village and museum are very educational and are the top field trip destinations for children in Michigan and surrounding states.

The Main Street Emporium is a single person run store in Greenfield Village. As of now it is a happy place that sells candy and old-fashioned toys, but before that it used to be a Funeral Parlor. Before I worked in the Main Street Emporium I worked in just the Village store. My co-workers that worked in the Main Street Emporium would always tell me about the creepy things that happened to them there. One co-worker said that she would see things fall off of the shelves and another said that the blinds would pop up on their own. When I was promoted I finally got to work in the Main Street Emporium, but it wasn’t until my third year there that I experienced something in the store.

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I really wanted to experience something supernatural so I thought I would download a ghost-hunting app as a joke to see if anything would actually happen to me. The app had really good reviews so I was excited. The app would say random words that related to the place that you were at. Some of the words that I got were “murder” and “hanged.” Let’s just say that I was pretty creeped out.

A few months later I was able to experience something really creepy that I won’t ever forget. This particular event happened in May or June, which are the top field trip months. I was working in the Emporium when a group of six or seven little girls came in the store with their chaperone. They were all talking to me and being cute. For some reason I asked them if they knew what this place used to be? They told me that they didn’t know but wanted to. I told them to guess and one little girl out of nowhere says “A place where dead bodies used to be.” I screamed. I asked them who told her and the chaperone said no one. I then asked her how she knew that this place was a funeral parlor and she said because her house is haunted and that she had the same eerie feeling in the store as she does at home. I was shocked and told everyone that I worked with and every person that walked into the store. It was probably one of the craziest things that have happened there.

New Year, New Horror

By: Cristina Tye

Last night I came across this article on Rotten Tomatoes. It was titled “Best Horror Movies by Year since 1920,” and had 10 pages worth of information detailing what movie was chosen for every year since 1920 and scored. This article cited the percentage value given on Rotten Tomatoes for the movie, an adjusted score in percentages detailing any variations of reviews, a critic’s consensus review, a synopsis, whose starring in each movie, and who directed it. This particularized article sparked my curiosity. Although I have not seen every horror movie, especially every horror movie ranked #1 on the list, I have seen some. So, I decided to provide an analysis for two of the movies on the list detailing the mechanisms used to cause horror in each.

Winner for the year 2014: The Babadook. Rated 98% on Rotten Tomatoes with a critic’s consensus emphasizing how The Babadook relies on “real horror rather than cheap jump scares—and boasts a heartfelt, genuinely moving story to boot.” Although I personally disliked this movie, the story did boast several scary attributes and received five-star reviews. According to Carroll’s taxonomy, the Babadook is considered horrific metonymy given the Babadook is described as a human with a pale face, top hat, and pointed fingers who torments his victims after the reading of his book. The main character, Amelia, believes he is a human force, as she runs to the police believing she is being stalked by a mysterious man. The Babadook demonstrates his power and influence as he infiltrates character’s minds, planting gruesome thoughts. He also exemplifies supernatural capabilities through opening and closing of doors, mysterious items planted in food, streaming of thoughts and voices, and the resemblance of the destroyed Babadook book. The mechanisms of horrific metonymy and paranormal activity scares the viewer, causes mayhem on the screen, and creates a depressed mood. Additionally, the ending of the Babadook possessing Amelia and her eventual escape from him, represents a frame story, as the Babadook represents the story of grief within the context. Although I do not give The Babadook a five-star rating, I will admit this movie creates lasting horror and a sense of loss within the audience.

Winner for the year 2002: The Ring. Rated 72% on Rotten Tomatoes with a critic’s consensus review stating “with a little gore and a lot of creepy visuals, The Ring gets under your skins, thanks to director Gore Verbinski’s haunting sense of atmosphere and an impassioned performance from Naomi Watts.” In my opinion, I could not agree more that The Ring, with a combination of fearful pop ups, scary visuals, and dark horror, created a traumatizing film. Samara, the monster, represents a fusion monster, as she is a young girl dead, but still alive and haunting the people who watch her cursed videotape. Given her terrifying appearance, Samara seems haunted by demonic forces with supernatural capabilities in an unbalanced frame. This especially scares the audience, as Samara is able to turn on TVs with black and white static, blur human faces photographed, and move around freely in the air. Also, The Ring did a phenomenal job at using real-world situations to its advantage to scare the viewer. The fuzzy TV is common on TVs (during this time), as well as the idea of falling down a well. Implementing real-world possible horrors with supernatural capabilities and a fusion monster was genius by the producer. The scary attributes in this movie support real-world horror and a frightening film. And, the horror most definitely got to me.

Although I only analyzed 2 out of almost 100 horror films, each winning movie for the year was effective in scaring its viewer through classified monsters and other horrifying mechanisms. The goal of a horror movie is to invoke alarm, shock, or fear within its viewers.

Types of horror can change each year, so I look forward to seeing new mechanisms created to scare viewers. In my opinion, any movie that incorporates pop-up creepy monsters is the true winner of fear.

An Innocent Game, So It Seemed . . .

By: Olivia Dworkin

I have always been entertained by horror. When I was a little kid, I actively looked for ways to immerse myself in scary situations. I loved haunted houses, scary movies, ghost stories, and, most importantly, the Ouija board. My friends and I would all get together in a small room, turn off all the lights, pull out the glow in the dark board, and summon the “demons.” We would always laugh about the events that occurred when we were finished, thinking that it was one of us that was moving the piece the whole time just to mess around. I mean, it had to be. Ghosts weren’t real, right? It wasn’t until eighth grade that I had to cut my Ouija board up into triangular pieces and burn it.


It was mid-day. My two friends (who I will call Abby and Jenna) and I got bored and decided to whip out the Ouija board to spice up the afternoon. We turned off all the lights and began to play. We summoned a spirit named Eli. Right from the start, something seemed off about him. He seemed to know facts that made us believe it wasn’t one of us moving the piece. We would test him by having someone sit out, and then ask Eli questions like when person’s grandmother’s birthday was, only an answer the person sitting out would know, and he would pass with flying colors. We couldn’t believe it, so we asked him to give us a sign that he was present. This is when he started to move my blinds back and forth. We began to communicate like that for a while – moving the blinds to the left meant yes, to the right meant no. Everything was innocent and honestly kind of cool at first, but then it got more serious.

You know how when you touch an object that is glow in the dark, and then release it, your handprint is black? I had been resting my hand on the glow in the dark board for a while, and when I picked it up my handprint wasn’t black. It was red. Suddenly, red fingerprints started filling the board until the whole board turned red. Eli said it was his blood. This is the point where Jenna started crying and had to go home. Abby and I were naïve though, and we were still curious, so we continued to play.

At the time, Abby had been dating someone pretty seriously (as serious as you can be in middle school) for two years. Eli knew this. He began to tell Abby that he was in love with her, and that she belonged with him. He tried to tell her that her boyfriend was all wrong for her, and that she needed to break up with him so that they could be together. He even predicted a date that they would break up, and a date that they would eventually get together. Abby started getting upset at this point, so we decided it was time to stop. However, Eli wasn’t done.

Abby kept calling me in the weeks following our Ouija board incident telling me that she kept seeing Eli around. She began to question her current relationship, and actually told me that she started to develop feelings for Eli. Her feelings for the spirit were so strong that she ended up breaking up with her boyfriend of two years for this ghost. She kept on begging me to play the Ouija board again so that they could speak. She said she thought he was the one.

Abby and I drifted apart after this incident because, to be honest, it was too scary to keep in touch with her. I wanted to believe that Eli wasn’t real, but quite truthfully I felt his presence, too. My mom saw that this was tearing me apart, so she told me I could never play with the Ouija board again. She looked up online how to get rid of demons released from the game, and cut up the board into triangles and burned it. Unfortunately, I still feel him around….

The Ghost of Residents Past

By: Azalea Hinojosa

I always knew my grandmother’s house was old but I didn’t realize it was 1895 old. It’s been over a hundred years since the building first went up and, for the most part, the exterior remains untouched: reddish brown brick with beige stone accents. The first floor still has the original hardwood flooring from the 19th century. So when my mom joked about the house being haunted, I laughed off the comment with a kind of “Yeah, whatever. Ghosts aren’t real” nonchalance.

I was the oldest of the grandkids present that day. My younger sister and I had left the family gathering on the first floor and made our way up to the third floor, where our favorite cousin Karina, lived. She is 6 years younger than me, and yet we always managed to find things to do that we all enjoyed. On this particular afternoon, we were watching a movie in her room. Or were we listening to music? Who knows.

The three of us sat in Karina’s room, anticipating the arrival of a few more of our cousins. Partly because we wanted to hang out with them, but mostly because we were waiting on them to eat dinner.

“Let’s go check to see if they’re here!” my sister yelled.

She quickly jumped from the floor and ran from the bedroom to the living room where three big windows peered out onto the street below. Karina and I followed, lightly running to keep up with my sister. (Here’s a hand-drawn floor plan of the third floor to give you a better picture.)

floor-plan“I don’t see their car,” she said.

My sister spent a mere 5 seconds looking down at the line of parked cars before running back to the room, almost colliding with me and Karina on her way back. Karina was the next one to arrive at the window, and she took her turn looking out even though my sister had already spoiled the news. Being a good 2 feet taller than Karina, I could easily peer over her head to see that there was no familiar vehicle in sight.

But out of the corner of my eye, I saw something else. In the room adjacent to the living room, I saw a small figure. A person. It was too blurry to make out any details but I got the sense that it was a male spirit. As I turned to look into the room, there was nothing. Am I going crazy or was there really a little boy there just a second ago? I stayed there for a moment, looking at the spot where the boy had stood, wearing all white and staring at me. For some odd reason, I wasn’t immediately scared. I actually wanted to see the boy again to confirm that I wasn’t imagining his existence.

I was the last one standing by the window, and so I made my way back to Karina’s room to rejoin them. I wondered whether I should tell them what I had just seen, but decided against it. Scaring them with this information would end up frightening me even more. Instead, I simply said “Let’s go back downstairs.” Thankfully, they agreed to this.

I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t think they would believe me.

Two hours after my brief encounter with the little boy, my mom bought us food and suggested we eat it on the third floor since it was much warmer than the first floor. I felt safe up there in the company of my grandma and my mom.

As my sister, Karina and I began to dig into the food that my mother had served us, I noticed that my mom kept staring from the kitchen at the living room area.

“What?” I asked.

She quickly averted her eyes from the living room back to the food.

“Nothing, I just thought I saw someone across walking from that second room to the dining room. It looked like a short man,” she answered.

I stopped eating.

Video Games – A New Potential For Horror

By: Kathryn Clark

I’ve always been a fan of horror in all shapes and forms. Much of my childhood was spent reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and trying to hold séances with homemade Ouija boards without my parents finding out. I’ve also loved video games since I was little, so it makes sense that these two loves would eventually combine. Now, video games are my absolute favorite way to experience horror, because they’re the only form of media where the audience is in control of the story.

Now, when I say that the audience is in control, I don’t mean that they get to choose what actually happens in the story. Obviously every video game has limits to what choices the player can actually make, and many games have scripts that they force you to follow for the sake of the plot. If the game wants you to go explore the creepy basement, then it’s not going to progress until you give in and explore the basement. But even when you’re given only a single option, you still have to be the one to make the choice to keep going. In a book or movie, the action moves at the same pace no matter who is reading or watching. In a video game, you set your own pace. It doesn’t matter if you’re following an immutable script – you’re still the one who chooses to press the buttons and make the story progress. Nothing happens unless you make it happen. And this active participation is exactly where the true potential for horror lies.

My freshman year of college, my best friend and I decided to play a game called Outlast. In it, you play as a reporter named Miles who sneaks into an asylum with the intention of exposing its illegal and unethical practices. You quickly become trapped inside its walls, and must embark on a complicated quest to unlock the doors and make it to safety. She played the first bit of the game, which was fairly spooky and had some good jumpscares, but I didn’t actually consider it to be scary.

Then it was my turn to play.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I became a complete wuss the moment that the power was in my hands. Now, I had to make decisions about how to react, whether Miles should hide in a locker or keep running. I was no longer a passive observer; if Miles died, it was on me. This was my first time playing a horror game, and it made me feel vulnerable in a way that I had never experienced before. It was almost as though I had become Miles, as though I feared for my own safety rather than simply the safety of a fictional character. I quickly reached the point where I physically could not make myself move forward, and had to hand the laptop back over to my friend. When I did manage to make myself continue playing, it would sometimes take me ten minutes to make it to the end of a single hallway, even when there was nothing standing in my way. As I said before, I wasn’t at all scared when my friend was the one playing. But something about being the one in control of the story – even if all I had to do was press a button – is absolutely terrifying.

I’ve been hooked on horror games ever since, despite the fact that I still struggle to actually make myself play them instead of wimping out partway through. No matter how many movies I watch or books I read, I’ve never found anything that horrifies me in quite the same way that games can. If you’re a fan of any other form of horror, then I highly suggest that you give video games a try. If you need some suggestions, there are plenty of free games available online, as well as some that you can buy for a reasonable cost. Just don’t blame me if they make it hard for you to sleep at night. After all, this was your choice.

My Crippling Fear of the Film “Signs”

By: Chelsea Pingston

I was 7 years old when I first saw the film, Signs. It’s basically a science fiction thriller about an alien invasion and how a family that lives on a farm deals with it. I’m really bad at summarizing plots so click here for a more in depth summary. Anyway, my oldest sister was babysitting me while our parents were at work or running errands during the film’s opening night in theaters. She decided to take me along with her friends to see the film and told me not to tell mom or dad. I had no idea what the film was about or why she wanted to keep it a secret from our parents. I was just excited for a night at the theater with my sister and her friends (mainly because she never included me with her friends because of our age gap). I remember my excitement of the drive to the theater and the pure euphoria I felt when my sister bought me a bag of popcorn and an icee (looking back on it, she was totally bribing me so that I wouldn’t tell our parents what we were doing). All of us gathered into the theater and chose the back row where the cool kids sat and soon enough the lights turned off and the film began. The film started with me happily munching on popcorn and the film ended with me on my sister’s lap and wrapped in her shirt. She was clearly frustrated with me because of how much the film terrified me.

Once we got home that night I slept in my parent’s bed with the scene of the black, faceless alien walking across the yard at the child’s birthday party replaying over and over in my head. Here’s the scene I’m referring to (I was literally shaking when I searched for this video clip for you guys).

I began to sleep with my parents every night for almost a week. They finally sat down and asked me why I was so scared until I told them the truth (with much dismay from my sister). They were mad at my sister for allowing me to see the movie and they were frustrated with me because my fear of aliens stuck with me for another two weeks until my mom did the coolest thing any mom could ever do. She finally sat me down and called the actor who played the alien in the movie and had him talk to me on the phone and explain to me that the alien was not real and that he was just an actor. He even went as far as to tell me that if aliens were real, that they were harmless. After that phone call felt so relieved. It was incredible. That night and every night after that, I slept peacefully in my own bed.

Years later my mom and I talked about what she had done for me. She admitted to me that I had not talked on the phone with the actor from Signs, but she had instead called our local theater and asked a young usher to convince me, her daughter, that he was the actor of the alien and asked him to help me not be afraid of the film anymore. I will never forget what my mom and the theater usher did for me. It had helped me overcome not only my fear of aliens, but also every horror movie I had watched from that day forward. It helped me realize that the monsters on screen were just actors and actresses, nothing more.