Revelations: 'The Conjuring' is quite a scare
The last horror movie I watched was about seven years ago in my living room - "The Exorcism of Emily Rose."
I still remember the nightmares I experienced in the subsequent weeks and my inability to turn off the lights at bedtime.
Yes, I was an adult afraid of the dark.
I suppose I believed if I slept with the lights on, the demonic, invisible forces circling above my head wouldn't be able to possess my soul. It sounds ridiculous, and it is. But that movie, oh Lord, how it terrified me.
And it did more than scare me away from exorcism movies - it turned me off to horror movies all together.
It also brought out my inner Christian fanatic, which prompted me to walk around my house with vegetable oil uttering prayers of protection at each window and doorway. With every stop, I signed the cross with the oil and rubbed it on the door frames.
I wasn't sure if I was doing the prayer walk right, but I was scared enough not to care.
At that moment, my fear let me believe I was Gandalf, of "The Lord of the Rings," holding a mighty staff yelling, "You shall not pass!"
At that time, I was only about two years invested in my faith, but I knew enough about spiritual warfare then to know all I needed to keep me from being demonically possessed was belief in Christ, scripture and a bottle of Wesson's finest vegetable oil.
Since that night, I've kept the promise I made to myself about not watching any more scary movies.
But last weekend, I caved.
I went to see "The Conjuring." Without knowing much about the film, I believed it was a psychological thriller, entirely unaware it was another demonic-exorcism-possession movie.
Within the first 10 minutes of the film, I was wide-eyed and uncomfortable.
My hands were up in front of my face, and I was peering through my fingers like a 6-year-old child.
I was spooked so many times, I think I actually dove into my friend's seat at one point repeating the phrase, "Is it over yet? Is it over yet? Is it over yet?"
When the movie ended, my friend asked how I enjoyed it, and I laughed.
"I don't know why people want to do this to themselves all the time," I said, referring to the enjoyment so many experience watching horror movies.
When I got home, I started feeling that same feeling I had years ago after watching "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" - fear.
I didn't want to be alone, I didn't want to turn the lights off, and I didn't want to go to sleep.
So I prayed.
I told God I was being silly, and that I knew, logically, it was only a movie. But I asked him to calm my nerves and remind me I am loved.
After praying, I picked up the computer and began researching the film on YouTube. I watched behind the scenes clips and documentaries about the true-story characters from the film.
By the end of the evening, and about 10 articles, 20 YouTube videos and one radio interview later, I was no longer afraid of the movie (or the possibility of angry spirits entering my home).
I fell asleep on the couch listening to the real-life family talk about ghosts and their experiences with demonic possession.
Surprisingly, I woke up refreshed, anxious to learn more about "The Conjuring."
A few days later, noticing I wasn't having any trouble getting to sleep, I realized my fear of demonic movies was not really fear at all. It was based on a lack of trust in God and knowledge about his goodness and power.
All these years later, it seems I've matured in my faith and grown into my ability to trust God. So I didn't need the oil. All I needed was to realize God has already won the battle. There is no fear unless we allow it to consume us.
For anyone interested in a good scare, I would highly recommend "The Conjuring."
I'm even considering another trip to the theater. But this time, I'll keep my hands in my lap.
Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @jenniferpreyss on Twitter.