The Best Time I Ever Had Going to the Movies Alone

A few days ago Film School Rejects published an opinion piece espousing the value of going to the movies alone. For a lot of people, the concept of a trip to the movies as anything but a group event is very foreign, but the article argues that once you get over the stigma, it’s actually a lot of fun. Me? I go to the movies by myself quite often. I’d say it happens at least once a week. Yes, yes, I am a big old nerdy lost cause in that regard, but my reasoning is simple: in a world that is increasingly connected, increasingly “on the grid,” the movie theater is the one place I know of where you are not just permitted to turn off your phone and shut up for a bit, but REQUIRED to do so. In a lot of ways, going to the movies is my way of meditating.

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE going to the movies with friends. I love the communal aspect of consuming my favorite art form with people who share similar (or even wildly different) tastes. I love that a movie can take a different flavor depending on who you’re with. But I also love the flavor of a solo outing. I was asked by a friend what the first movie I ever saw by myself was. Unfortunately, I cannot remember. But I do remember my favorite solo film outing, and I’d like to share it with you.

The year was 2012. I had recently moved into an efficiency apartment in center city Philadelphia. It was my first time living alone. I was single, under-employed, and at a bit of an identity crisis. Being a Chili’s waiter while nearing 30 had me feeling some type of way, and my slow realization that even though I had spent the previous decade pursuing a stand up comedy career, I was losing interest in my passion. I needed a real job. I needed insurance. I needed some kind of structure so as to not be stuck in the state of amateurish existence at which I was becoming too adept.

So Saturday night rolls around and I’ve got absolutely nothing to do except be a sad sack. As is habit, my muscle memory fired up Fandango just to see if anything at all was playing (one thing that hasn’t changed since then is my inclination to see literally any movie available). I noticed a one night only screening of V/H/S, an anthology horror flick that seemed to be getting decent reviews. As a sucker for anthology horror, I thought I might check it out. After hemming and hawing for a while I finally pulled the trigger. But even as I committed to walking down to the Ritz, I had doubts. This could just be a waste of time and money since, as a horror fan, I knew that quality in this genre can often be a roll of the dice (in hindsight I realize how insufferable this younger version of me sounds — I promise you he was relatively fine and just having a moment).

I was one of maybe ten people in the theater, which was to be expected. In walks an employee with a handful of posters. She announces that there will be three horror trivia questions, and everyone who answers correctly will get a poster. Two of the posters were your standard print of the movie’s logo. The third was an artist’s interpretation of one of the segments signed by the artist himself. Knowing how these things worked, and being very confident in my ability to crush some genre trivia, I decided to hold off from answering the first two questions so as to keep myself eligible to win the grand prize.

Question one: What movie features a doll possessed by the soul of a killer?

Easy. Easiest question ever. But I didn’t raise my hand. Let one of the plebes get this one, I say. Except they didn’t. Nobody raised their hand. God damn it. I’m gonna HAVE to answer this one, aren’t I? Whatever. Maybe I’ll just give the poster to someone else. But just when I was about to resign to raising my hand, someone else beat me  to it.

“Chucky!”

Nope. Not the official title. No dice. My turn.

Child’s Play.”

Poster one acquired!

Question two: Sam Raimi directed the Spider-Man trilogy. What horror/comedy trilogy kicked off his career as a filmmaker?

Oh my goodness. There’s just no way that anyone who finds themselves at a one-off screening of an independent horror anthology WON’T know the answer to this, right?

Wrong.

Once again, I refrained from raising my hand in the hopes that someone could home run this softball. No dice. After almost a minute of silence I put my hand up. The young woman running the trivia did just what I was afraid of. She correctly looked beyond me to see if somebody, anybody had an answer. Unfortunately for her, and fortunately for me, no one else did. She called on me again.

Evil Dead.”

Poster two (identical to poster one) acquired. At this point I made it clear that I really only wanted the last poster, and would be happy to give my spoils away to literally anyone who wanted them. So I did. I gave one to the Chucky guy and another to a random person who expressed interest. Next question!

Question three: Anthony Hopkins is famous for playing Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs, but he was not the first actor who to play the iconic cannibal. Who played him in the Michael Mann film Manhunter?

This time I shot my hand up as quickly as I could. Once again, our gracious hostess with the thankless job of running trivia did her best not to call on me, only to find that nobody but me had anything to say. She relented. I answered.

“Brian Cox.”

I resisted the urge to expound upon the trivia and note the prior to Lambs, the character’s name was actually “Hannibal Lecktor.” Smart move on my part. Anyway, grand prize acquired!!!!!

So I’m now feeling vindicated in having chosen to spend my Saturday alone at the movies, and this feeling only snowballed as the film unfolded. Anyone who knows me knows that V/H/S is an all-time favorite film of mine, and not only did it rock my brain in the theater, but it made going home to an empty apartment later that evening that much scarier (this is a good thing when you’re a horror junkie).

And here’s the best part: After the movie ended and the entire crowd left, I found that the two people who took the unwanted undercard prizes off my hands had left them behind to be trashed. So ultimately I got all three posters.

So yeah, going to the movies by yourself rules.

Author: Dan Scully

Dan Scully is a film buff and humorist living in a tiny apartment in Philadelphia. He hosts the podcast I Like to Movie Movie and is the proud father to twin cactuses named Riggs & Murtaugh. Also, he doesn’t really mind when Batman kills people. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

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