Everybody’s scared of something, and sometimes, whatever phobia’s you have, you can manage them. That is, until you unwittingly go into a film and see your worst fears come to life. So, you save you on the therapist bills, here’s some common phobias and the corresponding films you should avoid, lest you get the shit scared out of you.
Acrophobia – Fear of Heights
There’s a couple of films that’ll do it for you; Cliffhanger, The Towering Inferno & Vertigo, but The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon Levitt is pretty terrifying. It’s the story of tightrope walker Philippe Petit and his attempt to walk a high wire between the twin towers. This one will make you want to hold on tight for your life.
Arachnophobia – Fear of Spiders I’m a film guy and I’ll sit through anything once, except this one. I hate spiders and Arachnophobia is a film I can’t even think about watching; mutant spiders, giant webs, arachnids creeping through your house. Makes me shudder. Billed as a horror-comedy, it’s gonna make you feel itchy all over. You should also avoid Kingdom of the Spiders and Eight Legged Freaks if you don’t like spiders.
Arachnophobia – Fear of Spiders
I’m a film guy and I’ll sit through anything once, except this one. I hate spiders and Arachnophobia is a film I can’t even think about watching; mutant spiders, giant webs, arachnids creeping through your house. Makes me shudder. Billed as a horror-comedy, it’s gonna make you feel itchy all over. You should also avoid Kingdom of the Spiders and Eight Legged Freaks if you don’t like spiders.
Bibliophobia – Fear of Books
In one of the last great films he ever did, John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness will make you want to avoid books even more. If you’re afraid of the power of writing, or believe that books are alive and change everytime you read them, then this is your flick. I also don’t like The NeverEnding Story for this reason, or that screaming book from the first Harry Potter film.
Acrophobia – Fear of Flying
Plane crashes happen pretty often in films, but it’s the opening of the film Alive that’ll terrify you if you’re afraid of planes. Just watching the back of the plane disappear like that, and the resulting cannibalism and fight for survival that his semi-autobiographical film about a soccer team in the Andes has to endure; it’ll getcha.
Coulrophobia – Fear of Clowns
This one is more common than you think and if so, then you should avoid IT, Killer Klowns from Outer Space, Clown or the original Poltergeist and its remake.
Claustrophobia – Fear of Enclosed Spaces
The film geek in me admires the film Buried for how simple yet powerful it is and Ryan Reynold’s performance is amazing. But yeah, don’t like being buried alive? Skip this one. Also don’t watch The Descent or The Vanishing.
Agoraphobia – Fear of Wide Open Spaces
There’s plenty of examples of films that will trigger a fear of open spaces, but there’s something about Open Water. Not only is it about the space around you for as far as you can see, but also the space below you. You don’t know what’s down there. I don’t enjoy Gravity for the same reason; endless space.
Mysophobia – Fear of Germs
There’s a lot that can fit on the list: Cabin Fever, Contagion, Outbreak & 12 Monkeys, but my favourite is Antiviral. Directed by Branden Cronenberg (David Cronenberg’s son), this Canadian film is about a clinic that will infect you with a celebrities’ germs or virus, so you can feel just like them. Creepy.
Cynophobia – Fear of Dogs
This one isn’t so irrational, as dogs can be pretty scary, but I’d definitely avoid Stephen King’s Cujo. This one’s especially traumatic as the dog’s so sweet until the rabies kicks in… stupid rabid trash panda attacking the dog. You should also try not to watch The Pack, Mans Best Friend, or Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell.
Thanatophobia – Fear of Death
The Final Destination series is the first thing you’d avoid if you’ve got a phobia of death. An entire film dedicated to the persistence of something trying to end your life? Count me out. Also avoid Flatliners, Jacob’s Ladder and any Zombie film ever.
Monophobia – Fear of being Alone
Not every film on this list is a horror film. Take Castaway, for example, if you’re afraid of being alone, then being stranded on an island with a volleyball to talk to isn’t going to be a vacation. Buried also fits into this category, but you’ve also got When a Stranger Calls, All is Lost and Moon (which is a brilliant film).
Catoptrophobia – Fear of Mirrors
I’ve seen enough films about people getting trapped behind mirrors, or accidentally getting parts of themselves cut and they bleed to death, that I’m wary about mirrors in general. So you should avoid Oculus, as it’s about an evil possessed mirror. There’s also the Kiefer Sutherland film Mirrors, skip it too.
Cyberphobia – Fear of computers/automation
The best example of this is Eagle Eye, but you can also lump in The Terminator, The Mangler, The Matrix and jumping onto TV; Person of Interest. The fact that machines and computers are watching you and making coldly rational computations about our value and place in the world; chilling.
Nyctophobia – Fear of the Dark
This one is in no way irrational. If you can’t see anything coming, how do you know what’s behind you. For me, The Descent is the worst one to watch if you’re afraid of the dark, but you should also avoid Pitch Black and Lights Out. Also, just keep all the lights on, always.
Pedophobia – Fear of Children
Forget the John Carpenter remake, the original version makes the list: The Village of the Dammned. All these kids are too fucking creepy, I don’t want to see it again. You should also skip Orphan, Poltergeist, The Shining and Pet Sematary.
Hemophobia – Fear of Blood
Probably should stay away from any horror film ever (and some mainstream films too), but the one that always gets me is The Thing, when they’re testing the blood to find the alien. Blood that’s living? That’ll make it run cold. Also, try not to watch Carrie, The Shining or the Hostel films.
Ophidiophobia – Fear of Snakes
Bet you saw this one coming; Snakes on a Plane. While you could also avoid Anaconda (but why would you… it’s worth it for John Voight and Ice Cube in the same film), Raiders of the Lost Ark or even that giant snake from Conan the Barbarian, Snakes on a Plane is not only about snakes, they’re on a plane. The claustrophobia plus the snakes is enough.
Aquaphobia – Fear of Water
Mostly everyone is a afraid of drowning and there’s no shortage of films that will trigger the need to breathe. One of my favourite is James Cameron’s The Abyss. Not only does it involve being under water, but there’s mania and psychosis, aliens, a sinking old rig and a special breathing apparatus that requires you to breathe fluid, but you feel like drowning for a second. You could also watch the Poseidon Adventure, Jaws or even the endless expanse of Waterworld, if you want. Or just stay dry and breathe air. Your call.
Ornithophobia – Fear of Birds
Let’s face it, birds can be scary and if you’re not a fan of the feathered flock, don’t watch Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. Just don’t. Also avoid Jurassic Park III and Birdemic.
Somniphobia – Fear of Sleeping
Finally, most horror films will make you shy away from sleeping, as you think something will get you. The Nightmare on Elm street is a key example, but how about this one: The Nightmare. A documentary about night terrors and sleep paralysis, where actual people talk about not being able to move and things visiting them at night. This is in my Netflix queue, just can’t bring myself to hit play yet.