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The Summer of 2018 in Pop Culture Has Been Scary

Here are all the characters, programs, and Team USA headshots that you should look for this summer if you want to be terrified

Hulu/Warner Bros./Instagram/Ringer illustration

This has been a scary-ass summer—in a lot of ways. The president of the United States’ caps-lock fetish led to an incendiary tweet to the president of Iran. New York subways continue to be a humid nightmare. And even from an air-conditioned couch, desk, or movie theater, there are things readily available that will make you crap your pants. (Are there group therapy sessions available yet for Hereditary survivors?)

The summer of 2018 has been a particularly scary one, so here are the freakiest things on the pop culture terror spectrum to (not?) look for, from slightly scary to GET ME OUT OF HERE, basically.


Slight Terror

Slender Man in Slender Man

While the original creepypasta memes and the simplistic, page-collecting computer game were scary as hell (I literally fell out of a chair playing the game in college), the Slender Man lore is suffering from oversaturation—and that was before Sony decided to capitalize with a feature-length film that’s coming about five years too late.

The Slender Man paranoia peaked, rather tragically, with the HBO true-crime documentary about the two girls who stabbed their friend because they believed the Slender Man was real. In this case, fact is freakier than fiction.

The Predator

Conceptually, sure: A super-advanced alien species that likes to go to Earth and hunt humans for sport, collecting our skulls as trophies? That’s scary.

However, there hasn’t been a good Predator movie since the Arnold Schwarzenegger–led first Predator movie. This upcoming Predator movie, The Predator (original!), just went back for another set of reshoots—which, when you’re doing it multiple times, is not very promising. That’s … a different kind of scary.

Hulu’s Castle Rock

Stephen King is a horror master, and the Hulu series Castle Rock is a collection of King Easter eggs masquerading as a fully realized program. It’s pretty scary stuff, but if pure King-related horrors are what you’re looking for, the movie with the child-eating clown is streaming on HBO Go.

IP Rising from the Dead

Buffy the Vampire Slayer! Charlie’s Angels! Frasier (maybe)! It would be a lot scarier if these ideas were ill-conceived, but credit where it’s due: The new Buffy showrunner wants to focus her series on a brand new slayer; the Charlie’s Angels cast is stacked; and Frasier … well, it’s already a masterpiece, but I’d go for a second helping of tossed salads and scrambled eggs.

But as Hollywood continues its transformation into a reboot ouroboros of unoriginal ideas, I have a tiny bit of fear that these projects will be disasters.

Sufficiently Scary

Adora in Sharp Objects

There is probably a serial killer in the town of Wind Gap who murders teenage girls and rips out their teeth with pliers, and yet Patricia Clarkson’s Adora is the scariest goddamn thing in this HBO miniseries. She glides through her gothic Southern mansion just waiting to verbally eviscerate Amy Adams, a national treasure, for reasons still not entirely clear. She speaks in a drawl that’s somehow both soothing and intimidating. Her death glares could instigate a wind-chill advisory.

I can’t stop watching Sharp Objects, but the more I do, the more I fear Patricia Clarkson will enter my dreams and tell me I’m not doing enough with my life while wearing a beautiful, all-white gown.

The Meg

While The Meg itself doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be—the trailer veers among straight-up horror, silly one-liners, and Jason Statham acting very serious in the span of two minutes—there is a very simple reason for this to give you goosebumps: The movie is about dealing with a megalodon, which is a giant prehistoric shark.

It’s one thing to deal with a great white shark; imagine a creature that could eat one for breakfast. Get me the hell away from the water and that absolute unit.

Zac Efron’s Dreadlocks

Just for fun

A post shared by Zac Efron (@zacefron) on

Things about Zac Efron that are scary, ranked:

3. When he got too swole for Baywatch
2. He’s playing serial killer Ted Bundy in a horror movie later this year
1. These dreadlocks

John Wall’s Team USA Photo

Why does the Wall-Star look like a sentient pack of Marlboros?

Wow, I Want to Die!!!

The Conjuring Nun

True story: I intentionally waited to watch The Conjuring 2 until I was on a flight, because I figured it’d be less scary watching it around other people. And then this happened:

The nun in ‘The Conjuring 2’ Warner Bros. Pictures

This Demon Nun—they call her Valak, I call her My Waking Nightmare—is one of the scariest things I’ve ever seen on film. It’s just such a creepy design, coupled with an actress, Bonnie Aarons, who has made a career out of being, well, scary under the right circumstances (see: Mulholland Drive).

Unfortunately, Valak is so lit, she’s getting her own spinoff movie in September: The Nun. I watched the trailer for The Nun in the morning, next to a window flooding with sunlight. It … did not help.

The Washington Post’s Continuing Coverage of Parasites and Bacteria

Here are the headlines of some things The Washington Post has covered recently: A man went crabbing — and came back with flesh-eating bacteria that now threatens his life; The blemishes moving around on her face turned out to be a parasitic worm; Hookworms burrowed into a teenager’s skin during a trip to Florida. You can’t unsee these images; and, from January: He ate raw fish almost every day — until a 5-foot-long tapeworm slithered out of his body.

Democracy dies in darkness; so, too, does my will to ever go outdoors again, thanks to WaPo’s dedicated coverage of the parasite and bacteria beat.