I love action movies, but I don’t like the sight or sound of breaking bones. That’s why I couldn’t watch the mandingo fight in Django Unchained. Wanting to not draw attention to the fact that I was a wimp, I didn’t bury my head in my hands or someone’s shoulder; I just sat there, perfectly upright, and closed my eyes. As the cracking began, I thought about plugging my ears with my fingers, but since that would also give me away, I just kept repeating “This will end, it’s just a movie” in my head, calmly, so my face wouldn’t wince and telecast my squeamishness. It’s realizing that I had enough time to weigh these options that makes me think this is probably the longest I’ve ever averted my eyes in a movie.
Because I am a wimp and don’t subject myself to many horror (or otherwise graphic) films, I’m curious: What movie has made you hide your eyes the longest? A few confessions from my colleagues, then it’s your turn:
Darren Franich: I tend to really enjoy gross movies. (I laughed during most of The Human Centipede 2.) But I came pretty close to walking out of the theater during Hostel: Part II, in the scene when Heather Matarazzo — everyone’s favorite turn-of-the-millenium nerdy teen — is hung naked upside down and is slowly and excruciatingly slashed to death. Even by the incredibly flimsy moral standards of the horror genre, this whole sequence just struck me as aggressively disgusting, mean, and loathsome — and the fact that the scene features not one but two naked chicks gives it an unmistakable fratboy quality. Which might be exactly what director Eli Roth was going for. So hats off to you, sir!
Kristen Baldwin: The Cook, The Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover. There’s a moment where they cut a guy open and stuff him full of book pages. I had to walk out of the theater. Does that count?
Connie Yu: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The rape scene. But you had to cover your ears, too. I think I covered my eyes for 3 minutes? Or what felt like forever.
Martin Schwartz: Easy. Hannibal. I got so queasy once I saw Ray Liotta with a lobotomy, I don’t think I ever saw the dinner scene.
Jeff Labrecque: For what it’s worth, the inner-body shots from Three Kings made me dizzy and sweaty.
Sarah Caldwell: Oh man, this happens to me all the time. I would say I probably saw only 40 percent of Gangster Squad. There’s this one scene where literally nothing happens that made me terrified. But, to be fair, they’ve set up that they would, like, totally kill a kid. Like the director has let you know from the beginning that he has no qualms about being super violent and super explicit about the violence. So there’s this completely safe scene where Giovanni Ribisi’s character is fixing a bike and his adorable blonde kid comes over to talk to him, and I couldn’t watch any of it. Turns out, basically all that happens is a silly joke. Also, there’s a scene where someone throws a knife through someone’s hand so… yeah, you just had to be ready to close your eyes really quickly.
Samantha Highfill: This might sound weird, but I couldn’t watch most of I Am Legend, because in every scene, I was waiting for the dog to die. There’s that one scene where the dog runs into a dark building, and Will Smith has to go in and find him before the zombie-things do. I was curled up into a ball, and I still can’t watch it… even though I know the outcome. Or Misery. She gets out that sledgehammer, and I leave the room. Same goes for when Batman drops Eric Roberts from a balcony in The Dark Knight. Apparently, I have a thing with ankles.
Deven Persaud: About Schmidt. The Hot Tub scene.