Friday, March 6, 2009

Creepier when it could be real

Normally on Fridays, we do an episode recap, but since Natalie already did a recap of "Family Remains" (last night's repeat episode) back in January, I decided to talk about an aspect of this episode that really creeps me out -- the fact that it could happen.

My husband was saying last night that he thought I had nightmares because I watch scary shows like Supernatural. But my nightmares are about people chasing me or other scary things that happen in real life, not vampires and werewolves and skinwalkers. To me, the things that could happen in real life are way scarier than myths dreamed up in someone's imagination. Paranormal tales don't bother me. Slasher movies do. That's why, no matter how much I love Jared and Jensen, I can't watch Friday the 13th or My Bloody Valentine. The nightmares would be awful. I mean, I already hate the dark and waking up in the middle of the night wondering what noise woke me up.

In "Family Remains," we have a couple of young people who have been kept in the epitome of a dysfunctional situation. They are a product of incest, and their father/grandfather has kept them either locked in the house or in the walls for a couple of decades. No wonder they're disturbed. But what's even scarier than the moment when the creepy "ghost" girl steps across the circle of salt and Dean realizes that she's human is the fact that this scenario is not outside the realm of possibility. After all, the news covered a case out of Austria last year where a man was arrested for imprisoning his daughter and the three children they had together in his cellar for 24 years! I cannot imagine the horror. Sure, she didn't break free and start killing off members of a nice family who bought the house, but you'd sort of understand if she did.

Another non-supernatural Supernatural episode that gave me a serious case of the creeps was "The Benders" from Season One. In this one, Sam and Dean have their first case where they end up dealing with seriously messed-up humans instead of some evil supernatural force. It forces them to face the question of how to deal with non-supernatural baddies, and at the same time makes it difficult for me to enjoy a walk in the woods anywhere near an old house. Again, it's possible that a backwoods family would get their disturbing kicks out of kidnapping and hunting fellow humans.

These "dealing with humans" episodes are among my least favorite because of the real-life creep factor and the fact that they don't really relate to the show's theme of dealing with supernatural beings and situations. I much prefer my scary to be of the "couldn't happen in real life" variety. I can watch Underworld all day, but I would only watch Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Shining of my life depended on it.

So, what about you? What do you think of these "real life" episodes? Do they creep you out more than ones filled with wendigos and ghosts? Do you wish the writers would steer clear of these types of antagonists and let the Winchester boys focus on supernatural bad dudes?


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Very nice post, Trish! I never looked to see what ep we had this week before I put up the "coming this week" post.

I agree, the creep factor is higher when it could be real. Of course, I consider the ghost ones to fit that bill, too. LOL But "The Benders" is one of my favorite episodes, and I love when they occasionally do one like this because it...okay, it sounds weird, but it makes all the rest feel more real. Like it grounds the supernatural in our reality even more than the show already does.

Plus, from a narrative standpoint, I like the twist it brings. I know I'm probably in the minority on that, though. People always whine when there isn't a supernatural element. In "Family Remains," though, we THOUGHT there was until late in the show, so how is that different?

Anonymous said...

Trish, while I am a weenie on many levels and have been known to get scared over paranormal stuff (esp. if I heard about it young) I am waaaaaaaay more inclined to fear something that's possible. I used to have horrible nightmares and my mom would chuckle that I needed to stop reading Stephen King, but, like you, most of my nightmares were about more realistic stuff. I mean, I have two small children to worry about and a husband who flies several times a year--it's almost a relief to have anxiety over evil genies instead :-D

I understand why writers on a show about paranormal evil do the occasional "people are evil" (Buffy tried it with mixed results in season 6) but we've seen it on SPN with the two eps you've mentioned and my personal pref is that they steer clear of it in the future.


Trish Milburn said...

Natalie, interesting perspective about the real stuff making the paranormal stuff feel more real. I wouldn't say I hate the episodes like this, just that I prefer the other types. When I wake up from a nightmare in the middle of the night, I can easily dismiss vampires and werewolves, but not so much some creepy person creeping around my house, alarm system notwithstanding.

Trish Milburn said...

Tanya, seriously, it's spooky weird how alike you and I are. I think you, MJ and I are triplets separated at birth. Okay, so we're different ages. That does put a kink in that theory. :)

I hate it when my husband travels. Suddenly, sounds I don't notice when he's here are magnified a thousand-fold!

phouse1964 said...

Natalie, I too like the real" evil thrown into the mix once in awhile. I loved The Benders way more than Family Remains. (the fact that the kids could spell correctly took me out of the story. Rat girl knew to use "too" instead of "two" or "to"? I would have had her use the number 2. But that's just me)

I liked the way Sin City almost made us thing it was "people" being evil for a few minutes but then, not really.

I will say I enjoyed Family Remains more on the what? 3rd or
4th viewing and after not having seen it in awhile better than when it first aired. Both boys were looking quite yummy!

Anonymous said...

>>>>Both boys were looking quite yummy!

Well, yes, that has been the redeeming factor in the two or three eps I didn't really like *g*

bad tanya, shallow tanya....

Trish Milburn said...

Hee hee. Yummy brothers, always a definite plus. :)

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

When I wake up from a nightmare in the middle of the night, I can easily dismiss vampires and werewolves, but not so much some creepy person creeping around my house

Oh, yes, that's a definite!

I agree with you, Phouse, FR wasn't as good as TB, though I can rationalize those details away. :)

Yumminess is how we all got hooked on this show in the first place, isn't it? :)