Horror flick thrills keep movie-goers coming back for more

Photo via New Line Cinema.

As soon as I heard about “The Rite,” a horror movie released Jan. 28 about a priest studying at an exorcism school, I knew I had to see it. And at the same time, I knew it would scare me almost all the way to death.

You see, I’m absolutely terrified of the devil.

It’s inconvenient because Satan is quite the Hollywood celebrity. In the past 11 years, he and his demons have been the antagonists of numerous horror films, including “The Exorcist,” “Constantine,” “The Omen,” “The Exorcism of Emily Rose,” “Paranormal Activity,” “The Last Exorcism” and now “The Rite.”

And he’s been my worst fear for longer. It began in the Catholic elementary school years when my religion teacher told us we’d burn in Hell if we strayed from the path of Jesus, and since then, my fear has flourished.

I cringe every time I hear his name in church, and worse when I say it out loud. Last semester, I wrote my English paper about his presence in Dante’s “Inferno,” and found myself shivering while writing the words. I have regular nightmares about him; so far in my dreams this school year, he’s possessed my sister, my boyfriend, my mom and my roommate. I can’t fall back asleep until I pray a full rosary.

Despite all of these things, I still have plans to see “The Rite” while it’s in theaters. In fact, there’s no question — I need to see it. But why?

I have come to the conclusion that I, as well as a significant movie-going majority in our society, have a freakishly irresistible obsession with possession. The thrill of being horrified of it is what tempts me back every time, even though I know it’ll cost me a few nights’ sleep. I consider it worth it to curl up in my theater chair, shield my eyes, scream out loud and squeeze my friend’s hand ’til it turns purple.

I put myself through it for the same reason people sky dive or cliff jump — it’s terrifyingly thrilling. I realize my fears could almost certainly be diagnosed as a legitimate psychological phobia. But as long as Hollywood continues doing well to keep it that way, I’ll stay scared.