Crunchy snacks are my go-to food when watching a horror movie. I’m sure James Wan, director of the 2010 scare fest Insidious, can agree that a well-placed crackle is the secret to a good, suspenseful scare. Watching that movie for the first time several years ago, I remember cleverly placed cracking sounds creating such an eerie atmosphere any time the demon was on screen. Most importantly, I remember being absolutely petrified in the horrible, wonderful, crackly soundscape and thinking—how can I make the crunches…crunchier.
Chips, wafers, even mixed nuts are all appropriate to eat during a horror flick. They are comfort foods that allow me to control the sound around myself, rather than being rattled by jumpscares at the mercy of the sound effects team. Crunching down on something at just the right moment is integral to blocking out unwanted sounds and spooks. Hoping to drown out that eerie music? Crunch. Sound effects makin’ me squeamish? Double crunch. The scariest scenes in movies are usually very short because your mind fills in the blanks with the scariest conclusion. And the brevity of these scenes means that I’m only ever a few crunches away from sweet relief. I plan on protecting my dignity (this time around) by crunching back at the sounds coming from the bear in Annihilation before it can make me shriek like a child.
Scary movies can be a bit of an anxiety rollercoaster—in a fun way! But so often there comes a time when I need to take a step back and cradle what little adrenaline I have left. This is where crunchy snacks come in to lend a hand. It’s nice to have something to draw focus from the movie, kind of like a fidget but in the form of a sensation. Crunching on hard snacks like chocolate-covered almonds takes effort. Having to be slightly mindful that I’m not going to bite a big hole in my cheek takes my mind, if only for a second, off of what’s happening on screen. A handful of Corn Nuts can give me the courage to power through a scary movie without the anxiety getting to me. The distraction allows me to take a little breather from the terror, which I find relaxing. So sorry, Patrick Bateman, you can keep using Huey Lewis and the News to drown out your horrors, but I much prefer a box of Cheez-Itz.
This goes against everything our society believes in, but also consider chewing with your mouth open. Doing this with chips in particular can create some very interesting sound effects. Yes, I use crunchy snacks to break internal tension, but I also use them to create tension. A slow crunch (or several) can elevate a scene from PG to I’ll-be-sleeping-with-the-lights-on. In a sense, this makes you your own foley artist, much to the dismay of the people watching along with you. Rewatching the movie Insidious, I made sure to have a bag of chips on hand, and the added crunches did not disappoint. The scene in which psychic Elise (played by Lin Shaye) sees the demon for the first time in comatose kid Dalton’s room is a hundred times scarier with added sound effects. So the next time you plan on watching Rec or It, remember this: It’s scary to go alone—take chips!