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PAUL closes in Western Market
By Ella Mitchell, Staff Writer • April 22, 2024

Hatchet staff recount terrifying experiences during horror movie viewings

A match made in hell.
Jordan Tovin | Assistant Photo Editor
Reagan O’Brien and Varunavee Mohanraj give themselves a spook by watching The Shining.

Typically, when art imitates life, it doesn’t cause viewers to break into a cold sweat as their heartbeats thrum in their ears. 

But separating fiction from real life can be difficult when viewers find themselves in the thick of bone-chilling scenes. Whether it was through their own foolishness or sheer bad luck, several Hatchet staff members survived everything from a twister to a power outage while watching classic horror movies.

They lived to tell their stories:

Watching “Scream” in an Empty Theater

Jackson Lanzer | Staff Writer

It was late at night, and a blizzard had struck D.C. The streets were empty, harsh winds tore into trees and every sidewalk glimmered with ice. Weeks prior, my friends and I had purchased tickets to watch “Scream” opening weekend. We had no intention of letting what our weather apps called “severe weather” stop us from viewing a cinematic masterpiece.

When we reached the theater, its doors were ajar and every light was shining. But when we walked through the doors, no one greeted us at the box office, the concession stand was devoid of life and the only sounds in the normally loud theatre were our footsteps echoing through the empty hall. 

We decided to enter the empty theater and check if our film was still being screened. As we got closer, we could hear the faint whisper of Nicole Kidman’s voice beckoning us into a world where we would be “not just entertained but somehow reborn!”

The entire auditorium was empty, affording us our own personal showing of “Scream,” the fifth film in the meta franchise that follows a group of teens trying to survive another crazed horror movie fan taking up the mantle of serial killer Ghostface. 

About halfway through the movie, we heard footsteps in the hallway. We all glanced down toward the auditorium entrance as a shadowy shape emerged from the darkness. It moved forward slowly but then abruptly turned and disappeared. One of my friends, who may be the culture editor of this very publication, behaved like a fool destined for a beheading, following the shadow down the dark hallway. 

Thankfully for The Hatchet, he was not brutally murdered that night, and we never even found who else was in the theater — for all we know, Ghostface might still be lurking around AMC Georgetown. 

Viewing “Twister” During a Tornado Warning

Nick Perkins | Culture Editor

Few things terrify me more than tornadoes. Maybe it’s the multiple generations of midwesterners in my family, or maybe I just watched “The Wizard of Oz” too many times growing up, but there’s nothing quite like the fear that comes from a giant mass of wind ripping through fields and spinning people off to an untimely fate.

So when a tornado warning hit D.C. this summer, I was worried. To cope with my fear, I faced them head-on, firing up the movie “Twister.”

While not a horror movie in the traditional sense, with jump scares and ghosts lurking around every corner, “Twister” still manages to get the blood pumping in the same way any good horror movie does. The classic ’90s thriller follows intrepid storm chasers trying to escape a tornado. 

Plus, as anyone who’s ever been west of Ohio will tell you, the chances of a tornado tearing up your barn are a whole lot scarier (and closer to reality) than the possibility of a goofily dressed, masked killer jumping out at you with a chainsaw.

Thankfully, the potential tornado ultimately missed the District, but viewing “Twister” during the storm warning made the situation all the more horrifying and ripe for killer irony if the weather had not turned its course.

Seeing “The Cabin in the Woods” in a Cabin in The Woods

Emily Perez | Reporter

After a nine-hour-long drive, my friends and I arrived at the cozy wooden cabin in the Poconos, where we planned to spend our weeklong spring break. After making a quick dinner, we hunkered down around the TV in search of a fun, scary movie to watch just for the heck of it. We finally came across “The Cabin in the Woods,” and after giving each other slight smirks and glints in our eyes, we pressed play. 

About halfway through the movie, just when we were getting accustomed to the numerous jump scares and gruesome deaths of characters we hoped would survive, we started to hear strange noises coming from in and around the cabin, the same sounds that preceded the characters’ deaths in the movie. Soft tapping, slow creaks and scratching on window panes crept around us.  

After taking turns checking to make sure the doors and windows were locked, my friends and I decided to call it a night mid-movie, lest we become the inspiration behind a potential sequel. 

Experiencing “The Conjuring” During a Power Outage

Lindsey Spain | Reporter

I’ve always been easily scared by the slightest hints of paranormal activity. The creepy clown insurgence of 2016 left me trembling in my boots, petrified that one of the elusive figures would sneak up behind me like in the infamous viral videos. When my mother sneakily suggested watching “The Conjuring” to commemorate the start of fall, I was wary. 

It was a gloomy day marked by purple clouds, and heavy rain was on the way. My family settled upon the couch as rain pattered against the windows. The movie progressed minute by minute without eliciting anything more than a yawn from my family.

As the rain worsened, my anxiety increased as I tried in vain to prepare myself for the worst of the jump scares so as not to appear to be immature around my family. 

Suddenly, a crashing boom of thunder shook us from the spell of the film. Having briefly taken our eyes off the screen, none of us were prepared for the jump scare in which the Annabelle doll came alive from a dimly lit corner of the room. Moments later, the power went out, and all of the lights in our house went dark. The only light in the room came from my mother’s iPhone screen, creepily lighting the bottom of her face.

Needless to say, we have not watched “The Conjuring” since that fateful day. 

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