Image by Nicki Dugan Pogue via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

In an essay in Electric Lit, Megan Pillow Davis explores horror movies — why we love them, how we experience them in our bodies, and how they can help us deal with our own real-world traumas — like Davis’ own near-rape at the hands of a former coworker.

I watched the taillights of Daniel’s truck recede into the darkness. I thought of how Paul was the only thing that had kept me from becoming Mari Collingwood or Phyllis Stone, the girls who are raped and killed in The Last House on the Left. Daniel did neither of those things. But I could still feel a scorching anger welling up inside me. In a matter of seconds, I became not Mari or Phyllis, but Jennifer Hills from I Spit on Your Grave, the rape and revenge film that had called up old memories and given me nightmares for a month the first time I watched it. I had tried to forget about that film. But now it felt like my territory, my home. I could feel Jennifer unzipping my skin like a dress and climbing inside me. I imagined cutting Daniel’s dick off, clean as Chuck cut off the head of the coral snake. I imagined spitting and pissing and shitting on Daniel’s grave. And then, just before his truck disappeared behind a dark curtain of trees, I became Charlie. I willed Daniel’s truck to explode. I wanted his body to sear in the white-hot flame of my fear and shame and rage until there was nothing left.

Read the essay