I was afraid of the dark when I was younger. I would have my uncle check under my covers for monsters, aliens, burglars and rapists; then he would proceed to check inside my sheets for other creepy crawlers — I didn’t see much of uncle Jeff after that night. However, it’s thanks to his below average monster-scouting skills — and mysterious disappearance — that I realized that a Popeye night-light wasn’t appropriate for a 17 year old, and opted for leaving the door cracked instead.
It wasn’t long before I found that the police sirens and wailing tweakers were the only things left to fear — two unavoidable symptoms of living in a lower-class neighborhood in New Jersey. I wasn’t content, though. Falling asleep in a scared panic was the only life I knew, and learning to slumber any differently was proving to be difficult. So instead of robbing a pharmacy or finding a gentleman of streetly connections to make an exchange with, I decided to form a club for kids that couldn’t sleep and also enjoyed marginally scary stories. I called it “The Midnight Society.” While most teenagers at the time were having premarital sex and fantasizing about Marty McFly’s mom, me and the other friendless losers would gather in the middle of the woods and tell “hair-raising” stories with poor plotting and underwhelming antagonists.
Nevertheless, it managed to solve my bedtime woes, and it wasn’t long before the ashy grounds surrounding the campfire were my bed. Unfortunately, I’d always wake up with a face full of non-dairy creamer. Although it has been years since we’ve gathered at that campfire site or even spoken to each other, I wanted to give the surviving members a chance to recommend a scary game before an inevitable heroin overdose takes another life from the back-booth of an underground Hollywood strip club. So submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story “Games That Will Make You Cry: Again.”
David chose Fatal Frame. I was so disappointed in his choice that I made him explain — and in great detail — segments from his vast collection of incest-based hentai to Kristen, the girl he’s been crushing on. I then pushed him into the fire for being an introverted weirdo. My take: the last person you want to be when exploring a haunted house is a young, strangely attractive Japanese photographer. Ghosts gravitate toward young Japanese girls like strange men on subways gravitate toward… well, young Japanese girls. I feel like it would just be ridiculously tough to be a young Japanese girl, because virtually everyone is a potential predator. Thankfully, Miku kicks ass; by which I mean is utterly useless in every conceivable way imaginable — even with her magical camera lens. What makes Fatal Frame scary, though, is your complete lack of defense against the evil lurking in the dark. At least in Ghostsbusters folks had Dan Akroyd to protect them.
Tucker chose Dead Space. He told me it’s what his brother would have wanted, so I put my cigar out on his cheek and kissed his forehead — that oughta confuse the poor sucker. My take: Dead Space is a fantastic game that also plays as a reminder to assassinate Richard Branson before he begins the cycle once more. Do you think space travel is wise? Try fending off dozens of mutant fetuses — outside of a West Virginia abortion clinic, that is — and get back to me. There are more jump scares in Dead Space than in the entire Grudge series combined, and each one more intense than the last thanks to the eerie atmosphere, vague-but-intriguing storyline and ridiculously creepy memory sequences. On second thought, are we sure that Isaac was ever mentally capable of being an engineer on a space station? I mean, the dude loses his mind at the loss of a girlfriend. I’ve lost every girlfriend I’ve ever had — primarily by photographing them from the bushes outside of their respective homes. And also by not being their boyfriend. Point is, you don’t see me crying.
Stig chose Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. He said it reminded him of his home life, which explained his questionable hygiene and genital bruising. I made him confront his father. Suffice it to say, his run with the group was a short one. My take: following children around a mansion may sound like a wealthy perverts dream come true, but when they’re your own children and also possibly dead, it’s a story even Chris Hansen couldn’t tackle. I’m what medical professionals call a “pussy” when it comes to horror, so anytime a creature swiftly rushes across the screen, I scream like those chicks from Hostel. Let’s just say I was screaming loudly enough for my neighbors to assume I was torturing parrots, and contact The Animal Protection league (which sounds more like a low-budget Canadian-cable show à la Animorphs). A Machine for Pigs, like its predecessors, bases its scares on your helplessness while exploring the mansion and surrounding grounds. You’re continuously stalked, physiologically abused, and haunted by visions — but it’s totally fun if you don’t mind vigorous heart palpitations.
Betty Ann chose Outlast. Her choice didn’t make much sense, since she usually leans toward the supernatural, but I just chalked it up to years of probable drug and alcohol abuse, and didn’t bother kicking her in the ribs when she curled into the fetal position and begged me for change. My take: I guess when someone named “The Whistleblower” tells you to visit an abandoned psychiatric hospital, you grab your camera and do some investigating. What you find upon your arrival is an asylum infested with abominations, a crazy Mengele-esque doctor, and some nightmare inducing scares. Outlast is, quite possibly, the scariest video game ever produced. There’s a story of experimentation, deranged patients running loose, and an ending that will leave you wondering long after you walk away — all the ingredients required for baking a “never play this alone again” pie. The only thing scarier is knowing that it’s based on a true story. Maybe. Probably not.
Now that I’m older, I’m still afraid of the dark. I call my mom and make her promise me that monsters, aliens, burglars and rapists aren’t real, and that they wouldn’t be able to locate me even if they did exist. According to my parents, I was installed with an “anti-boogieman chip” as a baby. Thank God for technology. Although despite the routine phone calls, the creaks and howls of my home still keep me wide awake on a nightly basis. While it’s possible that my fears are for naught, and that my apartment isn’t as haunted as I believe it to be, I think the more likely explanation is that the Catholic Priest I hired from Craigslist to exorcise the demons may have been exaggerating a tad about his work history. In retrospect, I’m sure he was. I don’t even think Regan MacNeil is a real person. So while I still can’t watch Home Alone with the lights off, I managed to bring this series to a close. Goodnight folks, and may you forever be scared. Make sure to read the first in the series: The Midnight Society: Four Games That Will Make You Cry.