There’s nothing to stop a person from seeing a horror movie on their own, but there are times it would seem that it might not be the best idea. According to Jeremy Dick of MovieWeb a 77-year old British tourist made his way into a theater in Thailand to watch Annabelle Comes Home, the ninth film in the Conjuring franchise, and was found to have passed away when the film concluded. Sad as this is, it has certainly left a serious impression upon a lot of people about how scary the movie is and how it could possibly contribute to an accelerated heart rate that might not be wise for the elderly. If this had been the only case it might be written off as just being the gentleman’s time to go, and it might still be since there’s no report on what the cause of death was at this moment. But in 2016 an Indian gentleman suffered a stroke while watching The Conjuring 2 that led to a massive heart attack. Again, it wasn’t known if this was just his time or if the movie caused him to literally die of fright, but the implications are hard to miss.
It can’t really be said that the elderly shouldn’t be allowed to watch scary movies simply because of a heart condition, as they’re grown and know what they’re doing well enough to understand the risks. But the truth is that some movies as of late have been upping the ante when it comes to the scare factor, and whether they’re predictable or not, jump scares are still quite jarring to a lot of people. Plus, look at things this way, those of us that have grown up with these types of movies and have experienced the films that spawned them have become so used to jump scares that a lot of us are nearly immune to them. We know very well they’re coming, and that they’ll be jarring when they do. As much as they can be predicted and weathered by some, there are still those moments when the sudden reveal is too much for some folks.
The tension and the terror that has been built up in the Conjuring movies and all those associated with them is enough that it can spike the heart rate and does quite easily when watching the movie on the big screen. At home on a personal-sized screen the effect is usually a lot less, but in a wide-open theater with a humongous screen in front of you and the sound system that many theaters now have, those with heart conditions don’t stand much of a chance. It doesn’t seem to matter that critics have been blasting the latest Annabelle movie, people are still going to be terrified since that’s what they go to see the movie for. The jump scares are a crucial part of the movie since quite honestly the Conjuring wouldn’t be much without them, as Alex Vo and Joel Mears from Rotten Tomatoes might agree. The whole idea rising tension and being terrified of things unseen doesn’t always work for every crowd no matter that, in the right hands, it can be absolutely horrifying. The Conjuring universe has thus far been designed to elicit a very visceral and unconditioned response from people as the dealings with the occult and all that it has to offer in the way of danger, horror, and nonstop thrills seems to indicate that whatever is hidden away or unseen isn’t going to stay that way for long. The spirits that Ed and Lorraine Warren combat in the movies are all too present and very interested in making themselves known quite often.
The idea of a disclaimer stating that anyone with a heart condition might want to think about leaving the theater is a bit laughable since quite honestly grown adults aren’t going to see this as a serious plea to be mindful of their health, but more likely a boast that the movie is going to be too much for them to handle. Handing someone a challenge like this is never going to end all that well since it’s almost like telling a child ‘no, you can’t have that’. It doesn’t work, and with adults who want to see a movie, erring on the side of caution is taken as a joke more often than not since the idea is that it’s a movie, it’s make-believe, and it can’t harm you. As Caroline Kee of Buzzfeed News might agree with, the human body reacts whether the owner wants it to or not at certain moments, and despite the realization that we’re sitting in a movie theater and aren’t an actual part of the movie, the body will tense up now and again when it senses something that seems like danger. When the movie is good enough to elicit such a reaction, it becomes easier to sink into the story, and in doing so, the body is given leave to react in whatever way it sees fit. Unfortunately this means that the stress that one continues to feel will be all too real.
This is a saddening tale to hear quite honestly.