Despite all the intrigue and mystery surrounding Harry Potter, if I had one complaint about this series, it would be that it doesn’t have very good villains. There’s never that one terrifying character that genuinely makes my heart pound in fear, and I think that’s largely the fault of J.K. Rowling who presents supremely evil characters without much context for their motivation to be evil.
I mean, she simply expects you to see Voldemort or Bellatrix as scary and evil because she shows you that they’re scary and evil…but why? Why are these villains so intent on being evil? That’s my question. As a result, it’s difficult for me to see them in a three-dimensional way, or even feel fear when I encounter them.
However, there are plenty of moments in this series that J.K. Rowling did a great job of spooking me out of my skin, so let me share them with you on this very haunted night of Halloween. Happy brewing my pretties….*dun dun DUN!*
1. Katie Bell and the cursed necklace
Yet there was something wrong, something eerie. Her hair whipped her by the fierce wind, but her eyes were closed and her face was quite empty of expression…Then, six feet above the ground, Katie let out a terrible scream. Her eyes flew open but whatever she could see, or whatever she was feeling, was clearly causing her terrible anguish. She screamed and screamed.
This scene has all the elements of a horror movie done right. The buildup, the suspense, the sudden screams. This was the first time in the series that I felt actual goosebumps pop up on my skin.
2. Spiders, spiders, SPIDERS.
“Spiders. Not tiny spiders like those surging over the leaves below. Spiders the size of carthorses, eight-eyed, eight-legged, black, hairy, gigantic.”
Spiders? Hordes of spiders? That’s a spook for sure in my book.
3. Ginny Weasley and Tom Riddle’s diary
“Yes,” said Riddle, calmly. “Of course, she didn’t know what she was doing at first. It was very amusing. I wish you could have seen her new diary entries… far more interesting, they became… Dear Tom,” he recited, watching Harry’s horrified face, `I think I’m losing my memory. There are rooster feathers all over my robes and 1 don’t know how they got there. Dear Tom, l can’t remember what I did on the night of Halloween, but a cat was attacked and I’ve got paint all down my front. Dear Tom, Percy keeps telling me I’m pale and I’m not myself. I think he suspects me… There was another attack today and I don’t know where I was. Tom, what am I going to do? I think I’m going mad… I think I’m the one attacking everyone, Tom!”
Ginny blanking out for long periods of time and finding hereself covered in blood is the ultimate psychological spook. I mean, possession is scary as HECK. If you think about it, your friend next to you might be possessed, but you’d never know it until that person stabs you in the neck. So no, just no.
4. Inferi jumps out of the lake.
With a noise like an explosion, something very large and pale erupted out of the dark water some twenty feet away; before Harry could see what it was, it had vanished again with a crashing splash that made great, deep ripples on the mirrored surface. Harry leapt backward in shock and hit the wall; his heart was still thundering as he turned to Dumbledore.
Best jump scare ever. Seriously, the hairs on my arm were prickling because everything about Harry and Dumbledore’s trip to the Horcrux lake was chilling, and although I don’t scared very easily, this scene made me freaking nervous. And I hate zombies with a passion, so that helps too.
5. Bathilda Bagshot, a.k.a. Nagini
The first and only time in this series that I literally felt my skin crawl from pure, visceral horror. The moments leading up to Nagini’s revealing in this chapter are so ominous that when the moment actually came, my hair rose and I broke out into sweat.
“There’s someone there. Someone watching us. I can tell. There, over by the bushes.”
They stood quite still, holding on to each other, gazing at the dense black boundary of the graveyard. Harry could not see anything.
“Lumos,” said Harry, and his wand ignited. He gave a start: Bathilda had moved close to him in those few seconds of darkness, and he had not heard her approach.
“Over here,” she whispered, pointing to the corner. Harry raised his wand and saw the outline of a cluttered dressing table beneath the curtained window.
This time she did not lead him. Harry edged between her and the unmade bed, his wand raised. He did not want to look away from her.
“What is it?” he asked as he reached the dressing table, which was heaped high with what looked and smelled like dirty laundry.
“There,” she said, pointing at the shapeless mass.
And in the instant that he looked away, his eyes raking the tangled mess for a sword hilt, a ruby, she moved weirdly: He saw it out of the corner of his eyes; panic made him turn and horror paralyzed him as he saw the old body collapsing and the great snake pouring for the place where her neck had been.
6. Return of the Noseless Lord
It was as though Wormtail had flipped over a stone and revealed something ugly, slimy, and blind—but worse, a hundred times worse. The thing Wormtail had been carrying had the shape of a crouched human child, except that Harry had never seen anything less like a child. It was hairless and scaly-looking, a dark, raw, reddish black. Its arms and legs were thin and feeble, and its face—no child alive ever had a face like that—flat and snakelike, with gleaming red eyes.
Voldemort’s return in Goblet of Fire scared my older sister so much that she slept in my room for an entire month (pffft!) I personally didn’t feel the spooks to that extent, but I’ll take it for granted that I’m supposed to be scared here. The screenshot is admittedly quite creepy…
7. The revealing of “Mad”-Eye Barty. Quite literally.
“The Dark Lord and I,” said Moody, and he looked completely insane now, towering over Harry, leering down at him, “have much in common. Both of us, for instance, had very disappointing fathers… very disappointing indeed. Both of us suffered the indignity, Harry, of being named after those fathers. And both of us had the pleasure… the very great pleasure …of killing our fathers to ensure the continued rise of the Dark Order!”
“You’re mad,” Harry said—he couldn’t stop himself. “you’re mad!”
Imposter Barty Crouch Jr. questioning Harry about his encounter with Voldemort, and Harry’s growing realization that he’s not Mad Eye Moody is chilling as hell. The ominous tension in this scene is really well-built through this scene, and it’s probably one of my favorite twists of the entire series.
This wasn’t from the books, but come on. Clowns? WHY U MAKE FUN SCENE SO SCARY? *sobs*
****Whew! So what were your scariest moments from Harry Potter? Dementors? Voldemort? Bellatrix? Let me know in the comments below, and I wish a very happy Halloween to you all!