Parenting: A Whole New Level of Horror

So, in December of 2017 I became a father of a beautiful baby girl. It was one of the happiest moments of my life. Little did I know how much it would impact my love of horror.

There were a lot of things I had read, watched, or played that terrified me before becoming a father, but afterwards? Holy shit it was a whole new world. There are three that affected me most. The most visceral feelings of terror I’ve ever experienced. So, spoiler warnings ahead for the following.

Hereditary (2018)

Pet Semetary

Salem’s Lot

We’ll start with the obvious: Stephen King fucking loves killing children. Not a knock against him, the man is a master at making people feel terror. Thing is, until I became a father I didn’t realize just how horrifying it would be for a child to die and the parents to continue on. So, there’s the before and after with Pet Semetary. I first watched it in high school, the old one from the eighties with Herman Munster as Judd. It had it’s moments of horror, but mostly just a cheesy b-horror. I distinctly remember laughing like a maniac at the dumbass kid running out into the street and getting flattened by the truck.

Fast forward to mid-2019. The remake has just come out, and I thought to myself “Hey, lets rewatch this old thing and see how funny it is.”


I had to go check on my child and reassure myself she was still okay. Holy shit. Even with all the cheesy effects and acting, I felt it. I understood. Before it was “how stupid can they be? Burying their dead kid in an obviously haunted graveyard.” Now I understand. I would do anything for my child, even to the point of digging her up and putting her into a cursed graveyard if it meant one more day with her. If she happens to kill me, so be it.

Bringing us to our next piece: Salem’s Lot. King says this is his favorite book he’s ever written, and I agree with him. This book TERRIFIED me. I read it when my daughter was six months old, between bouts of sleeplessness. When it got to the chapters about the woman taking care of her child, I felt my stomach drop. I knew where this was going.

So, quick rundown. The kid in the book is around 1-2 years old. The vampires in the book are your classic Dracula/Nosferatu types: they have to be invited in, can’t cross water, afraid of crucifixes, etc. So, naturally this town starts getting a vamp epidemic, and who’s one of the first to go? This goddamn kid. See, toddlers don’t know about vampires. They see some creepy bastard at their door their just going to be like “Hey man, come on in.” Except it’s going to be fucking gibberish, but the sentiment is still there. So the mother wakes up the next morning, not realizing what has happened, but noticing her child is much more lethargic than usual.

Spoiler alert: THE BABY FUCKING DIES. Naturally, he’s been fed on by a vampire. But it’s the horror of the child slowly dying, the mother trying to get him to act normal, attempting to force feed him as he sits in a high chair lifeless, that gets you. I had to put the book down and go outside for a bit, and I fucking hate the outside. But that isn’t the worst part about that.


Yeah, there’s a point later where they’re trying to map out all the vamps in town, and the main characters pull out the cover of a crawl space under the couples trailer. They look in and see the couple in there hibernating with little vamp toddler snug between them, sleeping away. Then they pull them out into the sun to burn. Because Stephen King apparently wants to kill every child in his novels.

Now for the the magnum opus. Hereditary. If you haven’t seen this film yet, let me just set the scene with a one word summary.


So, throughout the marketing campaign for this movie they focused in on Charlie. The weird little girl in the family that, according to all the trailers, was going to be like the main evil possessed kid in the entire movie.

Props to whoever was in charge of marketing that movie. Really threw me for a loop there. Again, if you haven’t watched Hereditary, stop reading this and do so. We’ll wait for you to watch it, have your few hours of pondering what the fuck just happened, and ask yourself why Ari Aster isn’t institutionalized. Seriously, this movie will mess you up worse than a $5 shrimp buffet.

So, now that you’ve watched Hereditary, you know that Charlie, our weird little tongue clicking supposed-to-be main character, FUCKING DIES THIRTY MINUTES INTO THE MOVIE.

Seriously, the kid goes to a party with her older brother, he leaves to get high and try to get laid, and this dumbass kid decides to eat something she knows she’s allergic to. This leads to the brother frantically driving her to the hospital along a desolate stretch of highway. During which, dumbass Charlie decides to roll the window down and stick her head out to get fresh air because she’s still choking. Lo and behold, something runs into the road, the brother jerks the steering wheel, and the car swerves. We see Charlie’s head hit a light pole and then it just stops while the brother realizes what happens.


So he drives back home, puts the car in the garage, and goes to bed like nothing ever happened. We figure Charlie is pretty fucked up, maybe dead. She took a hard hit. Then we hear the mother say she’s going to a movie or the store or something, and it just focuses in on the brother, still laying in bed, staring at the ceiling. What happened next should have won Toni Collette a damn Oscar because those screams of grief and agony are the most real depiction of loss I’ve ever heard. Then, just to drive it home, they cut to a shot of Charlie’s head, decapitated from the jaw up, covered in ants on the side of the road.

That’s the point where I turned Hereditary off and decided to wait a few days to finish it. The show of grief at losing a child was so real. It was such a freak accident. Nobody was expecting it. It shook me.

I probably would have just been a little shocked at that if I wasn’t a parent at the time, but now… it’s a whole different level of horror. Sure, there’s plenty of gruesomeness in showing the head on the side of the road, but the real horror lies in the emptiness that leaves in the family. The life that you helped bring into the world, suddenly extinguished in a moment. Something that you’ll never be able to get back.

I won’t go into the rest of Hereditary here, because there’s enough in that movie to do an entire psychology course over, but just try watching some of these if you don’t have a child now, then reviewing them when you’ve become a parent. It’s terrible.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s