Every year around this time, millions express their desire to start anew. They set lofty goals and steel themselves with an unbreakable resolve to lose those stubborn extra pounds, break that bad habit, or learn that new skill. The determination to better themselves is unshakable. And then after a few weeks, most give up.
Well, never fear! I am here to help save you some time and effort with some horror films that will give you the best excuses to just forgo the New Year’s resolutions this year and live happily without the guilt of knowing you didn’t follow through. As Marion Crane told us in Psycho, “headaches are like resolutions—you forget them once they stop hurting.”
Every year, the top ten resolutions are about the same, so here is a countdown along with some movie suggestions to give you the excuses you know you want to have on hand to keep those resolutions from hurting!
10. Read more.
There are plenty of films about the horrors of writing, but reading can have its dangers too. Reading the wrong thing could cause insanity as in John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness (1994)—do you read Sutter Kane? Or perhaps release an ancient grief demon like The Babadook (2014) that will unleash hell upon you and your kids, proving that even children’s books aren’t safe. And this goes for audio books too. If the Evil Dead series has taught us anything, its to not play books on tape. But hey, if you want to raise the demonic dead, have at it. Just don’t blame me if you end up having to cut off your own hand with a chainsaw.
9. Travel more
Be it international or domestic, traveling to any unknown place is just a bad idea. The ultimate example for international travel has got to be Hostel (2005), which proves that even seemingly innocent situations can lead to pure hell. Definitely be sure to treat the locals with respect or you could suffer the same fate as the American filmmakers of Cannibal Holocaust (1980). Then maybe you just want to travel through the wide-open spaces of the United States. Maybe take a canoe trip—uh oh, Deliverance (1972). Or a car trip through the desert. Just stay on the road because The Hills Have Eyes (1977 and 2006). Or maybe you just want to go camping. C’mon, you know better than that! Friday the 13th (1980), Don’t Go in the Woods (1981), Just Before Dawn (1981)…need I go on? And its not just rednecks, mutants, and mass murderers that you need to worry about. Even stopping at a freeway rest stop could put you in danger of bringing about the end of the world from an ancient Lovecraftian elder god with the voice of an Oscar-winning actor as in Glorious (2022). Going back to two of the granddaddies of modern horror, Psycho (1960) and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) may be all you need to cite to avoid this one.
8. Quit smoking
Breaking any addiction is a good idea, but there will certainly be hard work ahead. There is an entire industry built around kicking the nicotine habit and sometimes, extreme measures could be required. For example, take a look at “Quitter’s Inc.” the opening story of the anthology Cat’s Eye (1985), based on stories by Stephen King. Every move you make, they’ll be watching you, willing to do anything to help you succeed.
7. Improve job performance
There’s nothing wrong with being good at your job but let’s not go nuts here. American Psycho (2000) is a great example of taking this one too far. Also, too much focus on work can lead to increased stress and stress at work can lead to absolute Mayhem (2017).
6. Spend less time on social media
Try as I might, I simply could not find a horror movie that has a positive view of social media. It always goes very badly. From Scream 4 (2011) to Unfriended (2014) to this year’s Deadstream, it’s just a good idea to stay away from those addicting little apps. So, if this is your resolution for 2023, horror movies support you in your endeavors. Best of luck to you.
5. Live more economically
There are all kinds of ways to save money. Maybe staying at less expensive lodgings on those misguided cross-country trips will get you holed up at the Bates Motel. Maybe taking a job that provides room and board is the way to go. Uh-oh, you just took the winter caretaker’s job at the Overlook from The Shining (1980). Those guys at the arctic station in The Thing (1982) sure seem to be living below their means, too bad that ancient alien creature is imitating and killing them.
4. Spend more time with family and friends
According to horror movies, this one is just asking for trouble. In fact, this is the basis for massive swaths of the genre, almost as much as its opposite—don’t talk to strangers. So, perhaps this one is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of scenario. Let’s start with family. Just within the past decade, horror movies have made it clear that spending time with family can be hazardous to your health. Wanna go see your grandparents? M. Night Shyamalan’s The Visit (2015). Your parents? Mom and Dad (2017) proves they may just want to kill you. What about estranged family members? Come to Daddy (2019) and the 2022 vampire flick The Invitation. I’m telling you, it’s a minefield out there.
As for friends, that can be just as dangerous. Scream (1996) proves that they could easily turn out to be psychopaths and most of the sequels bring it right back to family. And then there’s Karyn Kusama’s The Invitation from 2015; they may just want you to join their crazy death cult. But maybe the best example of family and friend gatherings gone wrong is The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. In fact, maybe that’s the movie to watch as a catch-all if you just want to preemptively eschew your resolutions this year.
3. Lose weight
Okay, so the top three are very related, but they’re different enough to warrant being separated out. First of all, losing weight is really hard. As someone who has done this one, I assure you there are no shortcuts and according to at least one movie, ancient curses are the absolute worst way to go. I am of course talking about Thinner (1996), based on the book by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) and directed by Tom Holland (the director of Fright Night and Child’s Play, not the Spider-Man guy). So, if you want to give this one a try, just avoid dabbling in any dark arts or getting on the bad side of anyone who may practice them.
2. Eat healthier
To avoid health food, one need look no further than Larry Cohen’s The Stuff (1985), the ultimate anti-health fad movie. As the tagline says, “are you eating it…or is it eating you?” This is also the one example where watching The Texas Chain Saw Massacre may actually help—it may well motivate you to go vegan.
1. Exercise more
This is it! The biggie. The most popular New Year’s resolution year after year. But be it weightlifting or cardio, the gym is basically a death trap according to horror movies. The dangers of the bench press is one of the most often depicted and best exemplified in Happy Birthday to Me (1981) and A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master (1988) in which Freddy turns someone into a cockroach via the barbell. Machines aren’t much safer though, so don’t think that avoiding the free weights will save you. For demonstrations of the skull-destroying powers of the weight machines, just check out The Toxic Avenger (1984) and Final Destination 3 (2006). Maybe you think the pool is a good way to go. Well, Cat People (1942) and Let the Right One In (2008) beg to differ. But for the ultimate, all-encompassing reason to avoid the gym, Death Spa (1989) is the movie for you.
So, there are plenty of reasons to give up on those New Year’s resolutions but let’s be honest, if you really are motivated to make a change, nothing will stand in your way. And if you fail, just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again. And then, why wait until the new year? Anytime is a good time to take charge of your life. So, despite all these deterrents, if you want to better yourself, just go for it. I certainly have no intention of stopping you.
Certain horror movies may try, however…