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'The River' vs. 'Law & Order: SVU': Which is scarier?

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The River Scares
Mario Perez/ABC

A funny thing happened yesterday while I was chatting with The River‘s executive producers Michael Green and Zack Estrin. I was going on about how I hate them for reinforcing my fear of dolls, when they brought up something that I had previously only given passing thought to: What scares have more lasting impact: Real or mystical?

“Personally, I think that SVU is scarier than us. I gotta be honest,” Estrin told me. “You know, someone could do that [stuff]. You open up the newspaper today, and you’re reading about a guy that brought his kids into his house and lit them on fire and hacked them. To me, that s–t is scary. That is real.”

Again, I say, I had never deep dived into the subject until he put it into that interesting perspective. I make no secret of the fact that I love scary movies because I love the thrill. But when I tally it up, have my SVU marathons been responsible for more nightmares than, say, The Woman in Black? The answer is absolutely.

Somewhere in my psyche, the real horrors of the world that I frequently watch so absentmindedly on the weekends (thanks, USA network) have embedded themselves so deeply that I don’t always notice the fears are there. But if I think back to the number of nightmares I’ve had about killers and murders versus, say, being sucked into a muddy body of water (pictured), the scares of daily life appear far more often.

That’s not to say I don’t enjoy what Estrin calls “escapist spooks.” That stuff’s fun. (Who doesn’t enjoy making themselves nauseated with fear? WOOHOO!) But that goes away. It’s fleeting fun — which, I have to say, is part of the reason I can’t wait to see more of The River. Thanks for the scare and the mystery, see you next week! The only mystery about real terrors, like those shown on SVU, is “Dear, God; why!?” (Or, as Green joked, “How did that get on television as opposed to what we’re doing?”) And that, friends, is scariest of all.

I invite your thoughts on the matter and ask you to vote in our poll if you wish!

Follow @EWSandraG

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