The Best Kind of Horror Doesn't Actually Scare the Sh*t Out of You
Halloween isn’t just a holiday—it’s our entire October mood. So celebrate the best time of year with a month’s worth of stories that will keep you up all night long. (Binge-watching and eating candy, probably. Same, tbh.) Cheers, witches!
This post contains spoilers about the Hulu series, Light as a Feather, which begins streaming Oct. 12. Stream It
Turning on a horror movie or TV show, for a lot of people, can be risky. Anxiety-inducing, even. Especially if you’re like me and hate, oh, 90 percent of the scary stuff out there. “Found” footage of the paranormal? No, thanks. A film with both pigeon and human decapitation? I’m good. A jump scare that will definitely result in you having nightmares about a nun (a nun!) for months? NOPE.
Today, Hulu is blessing viewers like us with a show that checks off the horror box without demanding too much in return: Light as a Feather.
Based on Zoe Aarsen’s Wattpad story that has since attracted nearly 3 million reads, Light as a Feather follows the aftermath of what starts out as an innocent game of “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board.” Per the basic rules of the levitation game commonly played by teens at sleepovers, at least four girls try to lift a fifth after her imagined cause of death is read aloud. Light as a Feather takes this game one step further when the group becomes cursed and the girls begin to die one by one.
If you’ve seen 1996’s The Craft, you know that “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” has not had a good track record on film. If you’ve tried it yourself, you know that the game has more to do with math, biology, and concentration than with paranormal activity. See also: gravity.
Wherever you stand on the game’s logistics, the familiarity of what Hulu’s show is based on makes it easy to watch. And that’s on top of the fact that the average length of each episode is about 25 minutes, which is just enough time to get sucked in before you quickly realize it’s time for another Instagram feed refresh (or another episode, if you’re into binge-watching).
The series is a temporary guest that can be a little dramatic—but only sometimes.
Save for a mysterious creature growing inside a main character’s back and a fingernail scene that might make you close your eyes for just a second, Light as a Feather is a harmless and enjoyable piece of entertainment that happens to have a release date close to Halloween. The show is basically the horror equivalent to say, Hallmark’s yearly lineup of low-commitment holiday movies (and recently, Netflix’s festively royal contributions)—and that’s a good thing.
Unlike the horror movies and TV shows of the last decade or so, Light as a Feather doesn’t stay with you, lingering in your brain long after the end credits roll across the screen and you realize you’re covered in spilled popcorn. Separating itself from Hereditary, A Quiet Place, or even Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House (also out Oct. 12), the series is a temporary guest that can be a little dramatic—but only sometimes.
There’s no psychological family trauma to haunt you, a post-apocalypse dystopia to live in, no scary special effects that make you afraid to turn around for the rest of your life. (The bad guy, for the record, is a sort of supernatural force that is definitely spooky with just a liiiitle bit of silly sprinkled in.) And no matter how dark or twisted things get, this 10-episode guest will always leave and you can still live in your house without calling in a priest for an exorcism.
It’s not exhausting to watch, but you get a thrill nonetheless.
Consider Light as a Feather a throwback to the easy, breezy days of ‘90s horror (think Scream, or even The Faculty), when audiences paid for a good scare that came with an expiry date. There’s no need to obsess over key moments or nitpick every frame of Light as a Feather. (That’s right, no rewinding required!) It’s not exhausting to watch, but you get a thrill nonetheless.
The triumph of Light as a Feather, stripped down, is that it allows for a brief escape from the scarier reality you might be living in. The only thing is: you might be tempted to check for a mysterious creature on your own back when all is said and done. But you already know that you’re fine, because what you just watched wasn’t that scary to begin with. More, please.
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