Home is where the Monster is.
I thought long and hard about the subject of “home,” and invariably my mind wandered to horror films, as it always does. Home means something to us in horror films, mostly because the most successful fright films deal with the invasion of home. We feel safe at home, and the violation of that safety scares us more than giant lizards or killer rabbits ever could. It’s more than a nuisance, it’s terrifying. But sometimes we don’t give the monsters a fair shake. Sometimes, we’re invading their home.
Take Jason Vorhees, for example. Okay, hulking monstrosity, hockey mask, machete, and all that. He’s scary, I get that. But he only ever follows one person home, at the very beginning of Friday the 13th Part 2. The rest of the time, Vorhees tries to stay in and around Camp Crystal Lake. Summer camp is a home away from home for America’s youth, a proving group filled with absentee counselors and budding adolescence.
It’s also Jason Vorhees home. It’s the only home he knows, and every summer another gaggle of horny teenagers show up, making noise and smoking pot. Can you blame him for hacking them to pieces? Home is where the heart is, and if you’re a mongoloid without proper parents, maybe the more hearts, the merrier. Literally. The crazy old man in town did warn them, after all.
Consider also the Halloween series. Whether you’re on team Carpenter or team Zombie, Michael Myers invariably heads home after escaping the asylum. Maybe he just wants to relive old memories: Christmas mornings, playing in the back yard, or stabbing his sister to death while wearing a clown mask. Who can be sure? The important point is that even movie monsters have the same desires we do. We all want to go back home after being away for a while. The sting that home isn’t the same; that you have to make home where you find yourself, can be jarring. Thankfully, more people adapt than become homicidal maniacs.
On the other hand, there’s the curious case of Freddy Krueger. Despite what many years of sequels have wiped away, the iconic house so associated with the gloved killer isn’t actually his house. It was Nancy’s house, then Jesse’s house. Freddy didn’t just invade the dreams of Elm Street’s children – he decided to move in! This always troubled me, because Freddy has no attachment to the house. Nancy’s mother just kept his hat there, in a furnace in the basement. If that gives you “squatter’s rights,” then I need to start leaving articles of clothing everywhere I go.
Freddy is the ultimate “bad” roommate – the house was in great shape until he moved in, you can’t come home without finding something horrible around every corner, and every now and then he brings a girl home and turns her into a cockroach. Not cool, Freddy! It’s no wonder that nobody moves into 1428 Elm Street. For that matter, nobody wants to move into the Myers house either. I’ll chalk that up to a sense of cosmic propriety – we don’t want monsters stalking around our homes. It’s fair to assume they don’t want to come home and find us stalking around theirs either.
Food for thought: “home is where the monster is” can be read both ways. As the Twilight Zone taught us: sometimes we’re the monsters. Those homicidal maniacs? They just want a place to kick back and get away from the big bad world for a while. Then they’ll try to kill you.