I’m home alone But I know you’re listening upstairs If I turn the volume of the cartoons loud enough, maybe Batman won’t hear me wearing my slippers. I slowly made my way to the door and opened it just enough to fit in the hallway. The front door is there. The pile of keys on the mat that my mom sent them to the mailbox. Will I find the right key in time? I look up and Jesmar is there, standing at the top of the stairs in his patchwork overalls, his calm smile, and his straw-coloured tassel. The air is electrified and I can hear a terrible groan. I need to run, but suddenly I’m swimming on concrete. Where is the key –
“Dear?” There is a light on my face. “Mr.! Are you okay?” The hostess is standing over me. The moaning is very loud now. The moan is coming from me. Oh my god “Aaaaaaaaaahhh sorry, I was having nightmares.”
I just woke up on a long haul flight to New Zealand. My fault? I watched Annabelle Coming Home – the third in a series of horror movies about a murderous baby. It’s not generally considered the best in the series, but it was easily frightening enough to provoke a recurring childhood nightmare about Jesmar, a life-size doll that belonged to my mother from childhood. Jesmar was bigger than me at one point.
Babies—especially those one meter tall and blue-eyed, blond, straw-haired, made to a specific specification—are a constant source of fear and admiration for me. So the announcement M3GANA horror movie about a blue-eyed AI doll singing Sia’s “Titanium” and going on a murder spree filled me with anticipation.
The hype around shows that I am not alone. There’s a surprisingly wide niche of doll horror movies. I guess I mainly scanned them to nudge my weird phobia to see what gave me chills and what left me cold. The pioneering Child’s Play series, which began in 1988, never left much of an impression – perhaps because my meeting with him was satirical. bride chunkyAt this point, the series was so campy that it became a horror comedy. The Conjuring and Annabelle series—for me at best and at worst, a terrible watch—come much later, in the 2010s. In movies, stop motion can sometimes hit the same buttons—especially Ash’s dancing wife, Linda. Evil Dead 2.
The scariest of these dolls shares the uncanny valley connotation, the sense of dread inspired by under-human beings. There are many theories for this phenomenon, but my favorite is essentially a horror story itself, attributed to the video game developer. David Szymanski: “The existence of the uncanny valley implies that at some point there was an evolutionary reason to fear something that looked human but was not human.”
Being afraid of being alone is quite understandable. We all have fears of abandonment
The added content of M3GAN is sass. With her amp bow blouses, ’60s shift dresses and oversized sunglasses, M3GAN has the enigmatic demeanor of Joan Didion in a murder streak. Dressed in a Regina George costume, this Ridley Scott alien likes to harass his targets before they destroy them. He has a personality that definitely takes cues from the funny and sadistic GLaDOS from the sci-fi horror video game. portal – a brilliantly original but overlooked villain.
Try comparing the M3GAN to the more traditional Annabelle, which represents a master class in folk wisdom of sinister physical traits. Like an evil Aubrey Plaza, he has wide sanpaku eyes – a classic feature of Hollywood stars and also serial killers like Charles Manson. No offense, Aubrey. Like Wednesday Addams, she has braids, clown makeup, and cadaver skin that speaks for themselves. “Keep an eye on it, something to fear” is a phrase you can hear about Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and also Annabelle. Like many female personifications of evil, she walks the line between childhood and brutality, innocence and evil. To me, the best spooky babies always are.
But no movie can be as scary to me as the 1998 movie. Hidden Files The episode “Chinga”, co-written by Stephen King, is about a little girl who, like M3GAN, is unhealthyly attached to her baby. Chinga, who eerily repeated the phrase “I want to play”, was frightening as it did not directly harm people. Instead, he possesses those around him with the will to self-harm, by gouging their eyes or stabbing themselves. Scully cooks it in the microwave in a memorable way.
Chartered psychologist of the British Psychological Society, Dr. “Your heart is beating fast, your muscles are tensing, your breathing is faster.” A person’s assessment of this physiological response determines its emotional quality. That’s why horror movies can be enjoyable and scary at the same time.
If I avoid scary doll movies, I can usually avoid waking up screaming – but I continue to be irresistibly drawn to them, even if the consequences are embarrassing. Nightmares, like the best childhood memories, are terrifying, sparkling with hallucinatory intensity, a feeling of my organs being compressed, and a persistent sense of dissociation. I wouldn’t exactly describe them as nice, though.
Children can be afraid of all kinds of things and their fears can be very strong. “It’s quite understandable to be afraid of being alone,” says Dr San. “We all have fears of abandonment.” But in classical conditioning situations, simple fears can become locked onto inanimate objects—like a one-foot doll. “You can develop a conditional relationship with an inanimate object if it’s there at the same time you’re experiencing pain or fear,” says Dr San. “It’s like being alone or hearing an argument between parents or something like that.”
Jesmar, whose frozen smile is now dreadfully stained with a dark constellation of mold, is still owned by my mother. It did not escape my attention that he was deformed in the tradition of late horror icons that became more demonized over time. It feels wrong to even write about him, wrong to even call him on my laptop – but at the same time, I can’t resist…
‘M3GAN’ is now in theaters