I went to see "The Conjuring." It is a worthwhile film with an expert setup for sustained scares, and it will probably be the best horror film of the year. Not a great film, but one that milks each moment. You know the scare is coming, but the delight is the anticipation and then the sledge hammer delivery.
That being said, about ten minutes into the film, I had my Stewart Sternberg Moment. Friends who watch horror films with me know exactly what I am referring to-- it is the point where, if I was in that situation, I would shake my head and go home. Or to someplace brightly lit surrounded by lots of people. someplace with people fatter than myself so if I had to run, I could out distance them. Just saying.
You can tell it's a Stewart Sternberg Moment because it is punctuated by me turning to someone in the room and saying "And what would I be doing right now?" The correct answer is "getting the hell out."
At "The Conjuring" I sat next to two Middle Aged women. When the moment came, and it was a simple moment where a dog wouldn't enter the new house, I said, "a dog don't enter, I don't enter." "Sweet Jesus no!" One woman replied.
And as simple as that, the communal experience of a horror film had been enjoined. A few scenes later, the other woman talked to the screen, "No...don't you open that. No." The other woman joined in with "Sweet Jesus no!"
"And what would Stewart do?" I asked these strangers.
"He wouldn't open that door," one said.
"No he wouldn't."
When someone behind us screamed at a demonic appearance jumping out of the darkness, I leaned back and asked, "Are you still in that house?"
"Hell no!" A teen answered.
And then something else happened on screen that had people murmuring and then shrieking.
"Where's Stewart?" An older man on my other side said with a nervous laugh.
"He ain't going outside," one woman answered.
"No he ain't." I said.
And you all wonder why I love horror films and why you should try and enjoy them in a movie theatre and not just in your living room.