We’ve all seen this movie. A bunch of rowdy teenagers running for their lives. “I’ll be safe at home!” they think. Who the hell is ever safe at home?
I was scavenger hunting in my basement with no clue as to what I was looking for. When I’m down there in the black abyss of our one-hundred plus year old home, I often find myself staring at the huge iron furnace that is embedded in the floor. It’s useful service days are long behind it. But I can’t help to wonder if an origin story for a horror movie happened because of it.
So here you are, silly horror movie devices you probably have begging to not save your life.
1. Sometimes a flashlight – sometimes a hammer.
You know it’s there. It’s in your junk drawer or on top of the refrigerator right now. Even if it has batteries in it, they’re dead. More than likely, it sorta-kinda works if you hit the head just right a few times. But if you breathe too hard it’ll go out again. Now you have a bludgeon.
You could fix this problem right now. Change or charge the batteries, I dare you. Is the bulb burned out? Many flashlights come with a spare bulb in the handle. Go for it. I’ll wait.
You didn’t do it. You won’t do it. Know why? Because you’ll never need it. Except for those times you can remember when you actually did need it – but you’ll never need it again, right? If you do need a quick light, your cell phone screen works just fine. The soft, ambient lighting will help set the mood for the two-headed, 600 tooth demon that’s about to eat your face.
2. Something that is about to break and has been for years.
That top stair has been creaking for years and if you step on it just right you can feel the step-top roll a little bit. The moment a killer is in your house, that crap is going to break. It’s not going to break on the killer – that would be a boring end to the story – no, it is going to break on you or a loved one running at full bat-shit crazy speed.
What does it say about you that you’re willing to put your loved ones at great risk from falling through the stairs into the basement while escaping from an ax-wielding maniac who broke into your house just to steal the toilet paper rolls? Parenting FAIL.
OK, so maybe it’s not a stair. Maybe it’s the hinge on the front door that periodically works its way loose. Now the door can’t be opened without a mallet, a screwdriver, and a blessing from God at 4:00pm next Tuesday while the bells ring.
3. An unexplained tool from 1830.
You don’t even own any tools from the 2000s. Where the hell did this thing come from anyway? Even if you know that this was granddad’s, you’d expect it to be in the basement or out in the garage but NOOOO, it’s managed to find its way to the china cabinet in the main hallway. It’s just hanging out in plain sight within reach of any killer over four feet tall.
By the way, there are only two conditions this tool exists in: creepy perfect and operational or terrifyingly deteriorated but functional anyway. Either way you know that at some point it’s going to wind up sticking out the top of someone’s head.
The picture here is a gimlet-pointed auger, circa 1809. Search around, I’m willing to bet you’ve got one or an oak woodturner double-caliper or something equally disturbing just waiting for a new home in an evidence bag.
4. One damn match.
The last time I lit a match, I was lighting our charcoal grill.
There were at least 200 matches in the box. My 11-year-old son dropped the box on the ground and quickly picked them up. But he couldn’t get them all to fit nicely back in the box because he was jamming them in every-which-way. After dinner, some of the matches were put in other containers, loosely left in a drawer, or dropped on the kitchen floor and swept underneath the counters.
I guarantee you that when I need a match to light my life-saving, home-brewed explosive I made in an attempt to finish off the hellspawn that’s hunting me down, I’ll find one of those. Maybe I’ll clear off the refrigerator top in one sweeping moment of terror-filled panic and find a matchbook with – you guessed it – one match left to tear out. It goes without saying that the match will be damp, the scratch surface will be mostly worn away, and for whatever reason a light breeze will be blowing through my kitchen.
5. An irrationally explosive chemical or unknown gas leak.
Your home is totes baby-proof, right? All the sockets have covers and all the organic, non-toxic all-natural cleaning chemicals are locked up under the bathroom sink. Even if you don’t have kids and live alone there’s a good chance that you keep the turpentine sealed in the shed. That’s good adulting.
So why the hell did that gasoline can get left on the front porch right where Trashcan Man can find it?
You haven’t launched model rockets in 25 years but suddenly a healthy box of igniters and D12 engines are sitting next to your bookshelf. You wouldn’t have even noticed them if you weren’t crawling away for dear life!
Oh, the propane grill outside? Your daughter’s boyfriend damaged the hose while he was gagging on a Tide Pod.
I’m willing to bet that you didn’t even know that equal parts citronella oil and powered sugar make a NAPALM cocktail, did you? Trashcan Man knew! Too bad you put the mosquito candles and baking goods on the same shelf. Let’s face it, you’re asking for this one.
6. A high-voltage device with a rare manufacturing flaw.
It already has. It sold you out at the factory.
If you’ve seen Final Destination, you know this is how Death works. This isn’t just any old flaw. It’s not the typical lack of quality control by inspector #7. This is a one-in-a-billion microscopic material failures working in conjunction with manufacturing process ignorance that no human eye could have even detected. It’s the result of a series of extraordinary failures in safety, metallurgy, and drunk soldering. Only under perfect conditions could the flaw possibly activate a disaster. Your odds of winning the lottery are better.
Congratulations you lucky, goat!
So you put an acne nose strip on but were unaware that the manufacturer slightly modified the chemical makeup of the glue – it now includes mercury. You’re out of clean towels so when you get out of the shower you drip-dry in front of the mirror. It’s a strangely chill day even though the sun is bright and shining, so you close the window but accidentally leave it a frog’s hair open. Speaking of the sun, we are smack dab in the middle of solar-outage season meaning that the streams of high-energy particles emanating from the sun are at their peak and boy-o-boy this season in really bad – your TV won’t even turn on! You plug-in your trusty hair dryer and suddenly all those normally mundane factors turn your bathroom into a mad-science lab. That device is now a radioactive, microwave death-ray that will either give you superpowers or atomize you instantly.
Stop hoping you got the superpowers. It’s called a ‘death-ray’ for a reason.