Notes from a Scream Queen

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Have you seen The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix yet? It was a pretty good show, except my roommate has been annoyed by my sleeping in the living room with the lights on and The Office playing in the background for the past two weeks… I wouldn’t say I love scary movies, but I definitely consider getting “scared” a good form of entertainment. Watching scary movies is a group activity (at least for me, since I would never EVER watch one alone, are you kidding me?!) that really brings people together. Some of my fondest college memories are of October in my sorority house, where there would be a huge group of girls watching a scary movie in the living room every single night of the month. Our collective screams were so loud that the neighbors probably thought there was an actual murder happening inside. More recent memories include staying in and watching Sinister on a laptop with some fellow travelers, and of course, my annual pre-Halloween movie marathon. In all of these situations, I am definitely that person who screams when nothing has even happened, which in turn makes everyone else jump. My friends love going to the movie theater with me… Anyway, here are five scary movies that I would like to highlight this Halloween:

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It Follows is an all-around brilliant movie in any genre. It leaves you thinking even after the end, and the more you think about it, the better it becomes. A supernatural, murderous entity, passed down from person to person via sex, follows its next victim, but it can only move at the speed of a walking human. The genius of this film is not only its portrayal of certain themes, but the way it maintains the most unsettling feeling the entire time. It’s impossible to tell which era the movie is set in. The characters watch shows on a TV from the 60’s, yet use electronic devices that don’t even exist. Very bizarre. Available to stream on Netflix.

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Hereditary is the most traditionally scary and scream-inducing out of all of these. It’s similar to other haunting, demonic coven movies, but this one connects those horrors with the real life scares of inherited mental illness. Still extremely terrifying, though. I can’t remember ever seeing a scary movie with such an unexpected moment as the one that occurs in this film (if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I’m talking about). There truly is something for everyone. Also need to mention that Toni Colette is amazing at everything she does. Not yet available on Netflix, as it just released this summer.

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The Witch is a slow-burning candle of a film. A religious family in 17th-century New England settles into their new farm, after being banished from their former Puritan clan. Evil seems to lurk in the surrounding woods, but only becomes evident a little at a time, allowing paranoia and doubt to take hold of the family. Typical A24, there are a lot of shots of nature to build the suspense. Don’t remember screaming during this one, but I probably did at inappropriate times. Available to stream on Netflix.

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Raw is a French film (with subtitles) and is not scary per se, but definitely creepy and at times disgusting. A vegetarian tries meat for the first time during her first week of vet school, and it all goes downhill from there. It’s a coming-of-age story with social commentary and a lot of blood. The full package! If this movie is based on true events in their schools, then the French have even more intense hazing rituals than the American fraternities you read about in the news. Did not scream at all during this. Available to stream on Netflix.

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Creep is a fun one. A man posts an online ad with a request to be filmed at his house for a day, and guess what? He turns out to be a real creep! But I won’t spoil how, exactly. Do yourself a favor and watch. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll scream (if you’re me). Available to stream on Netflix. And there is already a sequel that is supposed to be good.

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October 2018 Playlist

Jeepers creepers! I’ve been seeing too many scary movies lately (so yes, I binge-watched the entire season of The Haunting of Hill House this past week). But nothing haunts me in quite the same way as a good ole creepy tune. With Halloween just around the corner, trick or treat your ears to some festively chilling music. Listen below or on my Spotify page.

For more spooky songs, check out previous October playlists hereherehere, and here.

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February 2018 Playlist

As long as you’re not experiencing a breakup at the time, I must say that breakup songs are the most fascinating to compile! Obviously the actual act of breaking up is no fun, but it was definitely a source of inspiration for a wide variety of some of the best, most expressive and even empowering music. In my attempt to create a breakup playlist (in case your Valentine’s Day didn’t go as planned…) without the standard Celine Dion and Adele hits, I found so many gems! If you need some tunes for drying your eyes or slashing a certain someone’s tires, listen below or on my Spotify page. In a parallel vein, here’s last year’s playlist “Guaranteed to Ruin the Mood”. For songs that are actually related to the holiday, check out previous February playlists here and here.

January 2018 Playlist

The following is the product of the least amount of time I’ve ever spent on a blog playlist. A friend recently asked me to recommend some music, and I pretty much just picked a handful of songs I’ve been playing frequently this month. Hopefully this won’t sound like too haphazard of a mix. Listen below or on my Spotify page. For more winter-appropriate tunes, check out previous January playlists here and here.

2017: The Year in Books

This post is a little late because I realized towards the end of last year that I hadn’t read a ton of books that were actually published in 2017 and wanted to give myself a couple weeks to catch up. Below are my 2017 picks, but NPR’s Book Concierge is also a fun source for choosing your next read. And of course, you can follow my Goodreads account, where I keep track of all the books I’m working on and review those that I finish.

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South and West is further proof that Joan Didion is one of the best writers and ethnographers of our time. This is essentially a collection of notes–observations, interviews, etc.–she took while on a road trip through the deep South and while on assignment in California in the 70’s. It is mind-boggling that even her initial thoughts on unusual topics seem perfectly crafted, and each sentence is filled with intuition and wonder, all at once. This is a very short, yet indulgent read, and I would recommend to anyone who would be honored to explore somewhere or something new with a straight up queen.

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Little Fires Everywhere follows a seemingly idyllic suburban family in the 90’s and the drama that ensues when an artist and her daughter arrive in town and everyone becomes involved in the custody battle of an adopted Chinese-American baby. This novel won the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction and has been exceedingly popular since it was published just a few months ago. I really wanted to like it because I thought Celeste Ng’s first book, Everything I Never Told You, was incredibly powerful. But I was ultimately let down by a lack of depth, due to an overabundance of characters, heavy reliance on stereotypes and cliches, and no sense of closure at the end, which was highly unsatisfying. Still, the plot is pretty action-packed, and I enjoyed learning about Shaker Heights, an actual city in Ohio. I would recommend to anyone who is looking to be entertained by an easy-to-read story.

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Astrophysics for People in a Hurry is exactly what the title states–a short and sweet guide to the cosmos. In this winner of the 2017 Goodreads Choice Award for Science & Technology, the brilliant Neil deGrasse Tyson explains complex concepts–everything from the very, very big to the very, very small–in a way that is easy to understand for the layman. Sure, my science background from my Pre-Med days certainly helped, but I wouldn’t consider it necessary. Honestly, I’ve already forgotten a lot of the little details that were interesting at the time, but I think the main takeaway for most readers is perspective. Perfect for learning something new on Metro rides. Tyson is a charismatic narrator, but I would not recommend listening to the audio version like I did. This book is so dense with information that virtually every sentence will make you want to stop and ponder for a few seconds, which is difficult to do with an audio book. I basically had to start and stop and use 15-second rewind over and over again.

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We Are Never Meeting In Real Life made me laugh out loud in public. Comedian and Bitches Gotta Eat blogger Samantha Irby presents wildly hilarious essays about a random assortment of events in her life that are real… TOO REAL. Many of her stories are relatable in some way, and the rest will make you feel so much better about your own life. Irby writes like a millenial, with the wisdom of someone much older. (And she would probably have something delightfully, passive aggressively sassy–or just aggressively sassy–to say about my choice of wording.) The book does get fairly emotional when she discusses her difficult childhood, putting her cat (whom she calls the spawn of Satan) to sleep, and casually scattering her estranged father’s ashes while on a romantic vacation… But Irby somehow finds the humor in every situation.

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Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too might seem like a cute little graphic novel on the surface, but it is surprisingly deep and uplifting. This spiritual treat, written and illustrated by Jomny Sun of Twitter fame, follows an alien who encounters all sorts of creatures with varying personalities, as he struggles to find his place on Earth. The Little Prince in subject meets The Giving Tree in tone, expressing what it means to be human in a simple, yet incredibly effective way. Everyone should read this book!