The first part of last night’s Bachelor finale was some of the scariest stuff the show has ever given us, assuming that by scary you mean “literal horror-movie tropes” rather than “contestants who are racist or so unhinged that it does seem like they could kill someone.”
The beginning of the episode showed the Bachelor crew members hunting for Colton in the Portugal countryside like he was a serial killer on the loose. (Or like they were searching for a lost dog, given how much time they spent yelling, “Colton! Colton!” into the night.)
Chris Harrison offered a summary of the terrifying situation.
We watched as vans pulled up slowly next to creepily lit hotels, afraid of spooking their prey.
We watched the team mobilize, discussing strategy and identifying the target.
We watched from inside pursuit vehicles, while the producer-hunters discussed how easily Colton could’ve disappeared behind the roads’ tall stone fences.
Finally, as the situation escalated, the hunters were forced to discuss exigent circumstances.
That’s when things got very scary.
Like so much of The Bachelor, the show’s sudden dive into horror tropes is a multilayered mess of emotion. The episode was edited to look truly scary on the surface; those images of dark roads, the shaky camera work, the backlit shot of a producer chasing Colton down the road — all of it was purposely pieced together to look more like The Blair Witch Project than a Bachelor finale.
Once you recognize how mannered it all is though, it begins to seem very silly. The whispered conversations in the van, Chris Harrison’s Columbo-esque point that they might think about looking in the direction of the barking dogs, the suggestion to call the police. What would the Bachelor crew have even said? “A man who just got dumped by his girlfriend is very upset and seems to be taking a walk; we’re worried because he’s been gone for almost an hour and we need him to come back so we can film his distress”?
As with the best Bachelor sequences, the rarest ones, there’s also something genuinely scary lurking at the core, buried underneath the surface-level horror and the subcutaneous layer of silliness. In spite of the producers’ “here is a dramatic shot of Chris Harrison’s knees” antics, Colton also came off as seriously, intensely upset. It’s a kind of scariness that The Bachelor seems unlikely to dive into (although who can say what the final hour of the season will bring).
But the truest horror-movie twist buried at the center of this Bachelor season is that it’s really scary when a man goes into a rage, stalks off into the night, and voices his intent to chase after a woman who’s already dumped him. However The Bachelor ends up editing the dramatic conclusion to this narrative, there’s a version of it that comes off as a very real horror movie.
Me too, Colton. Me too.