How Horror Movies Attract The Masses
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How Horror Movies Attract The Masses

Why horror?

How Horror Movies Attract The Masses

If you were to approach me back when I was in high school and hand me two free movie tickets to the latest horror flick out in theaters, I would have probably run away from you, screaming at the mere thought of attending. As attractive as you may or may not have been, you would have been attending the showing solo. Guaranteed.

I never watched any movie that could qualify as even remotely scary until the summer after my senior year of high school, believing them only to be devices eager boys could use as an excuse to wrap their arms around a jittery date.

However, I had a change of heart somewhere during freshman year of college, at last recognizing the full amount of good that a horror movie can do for an analytical, easily excitable, sometimes overly-stressed out individual such as me. (That being said, horror movies are without a doubt also utilized by adolescent boys of impure intentions as mentioned above).

After immersing myself in classics such as "The Shining" and "The Exorcist," I dove into more recent favorites such as the "Insidious" movies, "The Conjuring" and two of the Sinister films. The "Paranormal Activities" were watched, as well as summer releases such as "It Follows" and "The Gallows." I was hooked.

Friends and family members have expressed their concern on multiple occasions. While I understand their discomfort at my preferring "Silence of the Lambs" over their endless list of dramas and romances, I also have attempted to explain to them what this now two-year obsession says about me. I’m trying to conquer my fears after living so long a slave to them. I’m enjoying the stories. I’m appreciating the twists. Sometimes I’m even laughing uncontrollably at the humor in these movies.

But the disbelieving looks on their faces give me cause for concern as well.

So I did some research, nerve-wracking trying to skim through the internet for an answer as to what’s wrong with you, isn’t it? Yeah, I don’t recommend it.

The first comforting finding I stumbled across assured me that I was not alone in my obsession. Whether you’re around people who regularly attend horror movies or not, let me inform you that they do sell. According to, The Conjuring earned $137,400,141. This link also states that in 2007, horror movies sold better than all other genres.

As explains, no one actually enjoys the scary events that occur during a horror movie. Some strange love for being frightened isn’t what brings people back to scary movies, but rather, it is the feeling of relief that washes over us when are fears have been extinguished that keeps us coming back for more. The site states, “This phenomenon is commonly referred to as “excitation transfer,” and despite this kind of arousal, it is far from being pleasant, when the extreme sense of excitement wears off, it is replaced by an equally intense sense of relief.” It is the feeling you get after you have been visually attacked by a jump scare and you turn to the person you’re with and laugh after what you have just watched together. It wasn’t real, but it terrified you. The threat is gone and your heart rate is going back down to normal while you convince yourself that next time you won’t scream aloud in public.

One theory that is perhaps less innocent in nature is described by, offering bestselling author Stephen King’s explanation that people attend scary movies as sort of a “symbolic catharsis.” The idea here is that the movie serves as a substitute for our deeper desires. If we are angry or scared, we go to see a scary movie as an outlet, to see our feelings duplicated on a screen and resolved.

There is also an explanation described by, which describes the brain’s response to danger. The pleasure here lies in the fact that while we are being exposed to frightening images and situations, we are not required to act in response to our surroundings. In reality, there are a list of steps that someone would have to take if presented with events that occur in horror movies. We take a certain amount of joy in not having to carry through with these steps. The article says, “We feel pleasure because we know we don’t have to do anything about it.”

So for whichever of these reasons that you or someone you know is interested in horror movies, don’t be alarmed. Just because you’re housemate is obsessed with watching serial killers on the screen does not indicate that he/she will replicate any of the actions that they watch on television. Next time you think to call them out on their weird obsession, consider joining them and stomach an entire horror movie. You might just find yourself a new coping mechanism.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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