It's close to Halloween so we saw a horror movie this past week. The Visit. Save your money. It was fair for entertainment but I side with those 60% of Flixsters who threw it rotten tomatoes. You realize a modern horror movie is weak when it resorts to the stereotypical scene where one character frightens another character, and the audience, by literally jumping out of a closet.
Someone asked me the other day my favorite horror movie. I realized I really didn't have one though I've enjoyed watching them in the past. But on thinking about those that I have seen, the one that seemed to come easily to mind is the psychological thriller by Alfred Hitchcock, Psycho, starring Anthony Perkins and Janet Leigh. It's about a pleasant, mild mannered, doting innkeeper who turns out in the end to be a deranged killer, having suffered from past psychosexual maladjustments.
I guess the thing that makes this movie and others like it "work" is the deceptive personality of the main character. Outwardly, he is one way, but inwardly he's a mess. And his mess comes to bear upon other unsuspecting persons. For the unsuspecting characters in Psycho not only is Perkins' character frightening, but after he's "outed" he's actually life-threatening.
I've seen as patients certain unsuspecting victims of such certain deceptive personalities. They're all women. An example is the "Chameleon Personality" of an alcoholic, drug addict, or porn addict. Men with these addictions will clean up their act as it were in order to attract a mate. He might even adopt his future mate's values even though they're not his. Then, once she's hooked (wed), he is unable to continue the façade, usually within the year, betraying her first impressions of him, eventually caving in to his true degrading self, dragging her with him, and as a result creating a real horror story -- at least for her. The deception having been outed.
Generally speaking, the first impressions one has of another are generally true and valid and comport with the person' overall character. Getting to know someone, however, for who they truly are requires over time their responses to various interests and concerns as well as those of the community -- a reason perhaps why long prenuptial engagements can be helpful, if a long term relationship is the goal.
An exception to this "long engagements are helpful" saying is the not uncommon story of post-WWII soldiers returning from war. There are variations on the theme but the gist of it goes like this. He strikes up a conversation with the diner waitress, asks to walk her home, and they get married a month later. And remain happily married for 50 years. Unbelievable I know, but I've heard this story more than a few times over the years and marvel over what it is in that short getting-to-know-you time that certifies in one's mind that the other is "truly for me" -- and in actuality, is!
Probably one thing that helped ferret out the deceptive elements that might attend courtship during the post-war era was the absence, more or less, of pretentiousness, emphasis on individualism, and self-adulation that exists in our culture today. I would think that would be helpful. This is not to say that in any age and culture that any particular person could deceive the other to whom they wish to spend many years with. But it's not difficult to think of several cultures currently in which this deception would be unthinkable.
Just recently I saw a woman, divorced for some years, with a young child, who's cohabiting with a man who wishes to get married, even gave her a big shiny ring. On a practical level they get along. Like many, she and he realize that life is a little easier as a pair than either living alone. But about a year after they moved in, he in subtle ways began to be a little more controlling and possessive. Not outright so, but just a tad. Enough that, from past experience, her "security and safety for the long haul" antennae went up. So she's opted to wait to see if he will change. Which is better than the "marry him and he will change" strategy.
It's become rather frightening really these days, being well-distanced from those value-stable times of post-WWII, the various ways in which we must be on guard with deceptive practices, not only in creating long term relationships, but simply in everyday life -- as individuals and as a community.
Now in the middle of a presidential campaign we're all (those not indifferent) trying to figure out who's telling the truth about what they truly believe all the time worrying like the new bride married to the Chameleon Personality wondering if they will change after they're elected. I suppose all we can do is monitor the courtship over time and hope for the best, hoping the "change" they're referring to is not the 180 turn around like our current leader did when one day as a candidate he told us that he firmly believed that marriage was between one man and one woman, then two years later as an elected official unabashedly renounced it.
And while there's nothing to be frightened over or fear that might jump out from the proverbial closet, the social changes that have resulted from people and ideas originating out of this closet through deceptive practices is itself a rather very scary thing. Writing about this deception is a topic for several blogs.
Deception certainly makes for good horror -- in more ways than one.