Greetings, everyone, I hope you have all been enjoying a spectacular spooky season. The impending horrors of Halloween are once again nigh, and to celebrate this haunted holiday, I’ve decided to share a scary story of my own…

This tale begins about two months ago, back in mid-August. One day, a couple of friends of mine had asked if I wanted to see the movie “Oppenheimer” with them. I had already seen it once before at the time, but having greatly enjoyed it, I was eager for a re-watch. So there I was, out with my friends, ready to watch a movie I like, sitting snugly in a comfy reclining seat in the middle of a giant IMAX theater. It seemed like a very nice time, and I was happy.

And then the trailer for “The Exorcist: Believer” played.

Oh, the horror! There I was, utterly helpless in my seat, watching as the massive screen rapidly flickered with ghosts and gore, going dark, light, black-and-white, and getting up in my face, all while the booming speakers delivered a cacophony of ear-piercing shrieks accompanied by horrible wailing music. It was absolutely mortifying! Now, I’m not a particularly squeamish person — I wasn’t afraid of being in any real danger — and the trailer really only lasted a few minutes. But absolutely none of that actually matters. At the end of the day, there simply is no getting around the inherent unpleasantness of this scenario. I was left feeling uncomfortable, annoyed, and thinking to myself: Why? And unfortunately, this was not an isolated experience. I’ve had the displeasure of having to sit through this ordeal time and time again, and countless other movie-goers are forced to endure it every passing day. Worst of all, this unpleasantness is merely the tip of an iceberg of problems.

The fact is, horror movie trailers are all the same, and they SUCK. And I’m about to pinpoint all the reasons why.

#1. They’re formulaic: Allow me to recap your average trailer. You start off quiet with some ominous music, out-of-context shots, and odd imagery. Then people start talking. They could be happy, in a futile attempt to mislead the viewers, or maybe they’re all vague and cryptic. They begin referring to some spooky things, the music starts building up, then… cut to silence. Suddenly, JUMPSCARE! Then a quick, scary montage with loud music plays as the audience watches jumpscare after jumpscare, blah blah blah. It’s all been done to death, and at a certain point you know exactly how it’s going to go. That trailer for “The Exorcist” I’ve been mentioning? It went exactly like this. Weird shots, vague dialogue, allusions to things like missing children and demonic possession (the usual), and then it sets off a loud series of screams and scares that kind of just… gets continuously more obnoxious and forgets to stop. The repetitiveness has gotten to the point where viewers have been trained to anticipate jumpscares, and to do their best to endure the annoyingly loud screams and music. The result is an experience that, while still uncomfortable, fails to actually impress or horrify, instead coming off as stale and unoriginal.

#2. They’re a disservice to the movie: Want to know an issue with showing off a movie’s jumpscares in the trailer? You’re showing off the movie’s jumpscares in the trailer. You know, the big moments that are supposed to be unexpected and shocking. If a future viewer is watching one of these trailers, then at best they’re going to already be accustomed with the type of scares awaiting them in the full movie, and at worst they’re going to be able to predict exactly when they happen. Other trailers like to outright flaunt whatever creatures or killers are in their movies, and some even like to show glimpses of character deaths. Now, one could make the argument that this is simply an inevitable part of advertising, that the very existence of a movie trailer means that a few things are going to be spoiled to some degree. This is true to an extent — after all, trailers are inherently designed to entice viewers with the premise, direction, or ideas presented by a film, meaning the viewer obviously won’t be going in completely blind. The issue here, however, is that the horror genre specifically is much more reliant on the tension, mystery, and shock that a bad trailer ruins. What kind of mysterious threat is lurking in the shadows? Is this character going to live or die? And are we really safe right now, or is a shrieking monster about to lunge at the camera from nowhere, throwing everything into chaos? Who knows?

…The audience would, should the trailer choose to show them all that stuff beforehand.

#3. They’re just unpleasant: Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that an advertisement for a horror movie should be all happy and uplifting, but I’ve already discussed how a lot of these trailers aren’t really great at being original or horrific. What they are great at, however, is being chock-full of stressful sensory stimulation. Why be remotely clever or subtle with your audiences when you can just hit them with a chaotic bombardment of monsters and gore, complete with booming audio guaranteed to leave them distressed and deafened? Perhaps these trailers would be more palatable if one was watching them online or on a TV, but in the middle of a big, dark theater, they become overwhelming.

#4. They aren’t for everyone, and yet they’re everywhere: Finally, the fact is that horror is an acquired taste, and a genre that many people would just rather avoid. These people can choose whether or not to see a horror movie, but the same concept can’t be applied to these trailers. After all, audiences can’t pick and choose what trailers they get before a movie, and horror trailers can play before just about anything rated PG-13 or R, in front of just about anyone. This becomes especially troublesome when you factor in the prevalence of certain sensory issues and preferences. For instance, plenty of people are especially bothered by sudden loud noises, or particularly disturbed by visual depictions of gore. Now say they go see some comedy or superhero movie, and a horror trailer full of sudden loud noises, violence, and death starts playing. There’s no doubt that it would be a highly uncomfortable experience for them, and there’s little they can do about it.

Now, I don’t hate the horror genre itself. On the contrary, I love it. Well, it’s more of a love-hate relationship, seeing as horror movies usually succeed at leaving me trembling in my seat. But horror TRAILERS? No love, all hate. They’re too formulaic, too excessively obnoxious with their sounds and visuals, they love to spoil the actual scares, and they never fail to worm their way into countless screenings of completely unrelated movies playing everywhere.

All in all, horror movie trailers suck, and they need to leave me alone. Serious action must be taken about this ASAP, before countless more people suffer at the hands of obnoxiously bad horror trailers. In the meantime, however, I urge everyone going to the theaters to be smart, be safe, and BE CAREFUL. Thank you, and have a Happy Halloween.