Why Do People Enjoy The Things That Frighten Them?
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Why Do People Enjoy The Things That Frighten Them?

A first-person account about the intrigue of the horror genre.

Why Do People Enjoy The Things That Frighten Them?

A few days ago, the spring semester of my junior year at Suffolk University began. One of the classes I'm taking is about horror fiction; we study classical--and frightening--works of literature. As an icebreaker, our professor wrote a simple, two-worded question on the whiteboard: "Why horror?" He told us to write a few sentences in our notebook, then we'd share our thoughts with the class.

I work the question over in my head, and then started scribbling.

My passionate affair with the horror genre began when I was a freshman in high school. It was the week before winter break, and being the bookworm that I am, I was at the library trying to pick some good reads for those chilly winter days. I was looking at the Nicholas Sparks collection, who was my favorite author at the time. However, after reading the summary for The Last Song, a question popped into my head:

Isn't this the same story line for most of his books?

I mean, obviously the characters were different, but the plot was nothing new: boy meets girl, girl meets boy, boy and girl get into fight, boy and girl make up, boy and girl get married...enough already!

I decided to text my mom for some recommendations. I told her I wanted to read something different, something that wasn't predictable. Try Stephen King, she texted back. His books are suspenseful.

Stephen King, I thought to myself, and looked for his collection. There were hundreds by him (not really, but it sure looked like it), but I decided to go with one of his smaller-sized novels for starters. I found a first-edition paperback that was dog-eared and tattered, with an all-black cover and a simple skull-shaped hood ornament. The title was Christine.

Is Christine the name of a girl? I wondered. Was she in a car accident? Was that why there was a hood ornament on the cover?

These questions were ones that would be answered once I started reading; there was no description on the back of the book, just reviews and praises.

Of course, that's a sign the book is good, right?

Right! I finished Christine in a matter of days, and despite the moments of terror and stress I felt while flying through the pages of the book, I couldn't stop myself. After each chapter, another question aroused that I needed an answer to. It was that never-ending sense of curiosity that overpowered my fear and compelled me to keep reading.

Naturally, after reading one Stephen King novel, I wanted to read more and more. The next book I found had a picture of a dog's muzzle on it, entitled Cujo.

Is that supposed to represent a monster? Or something else? Time to start reading again!

After I had read most of King's classic works, I decided to look into different mediums of horror. Specifically, I wondered if I was ready to handle a few horror movies.

During the summer of my sophomore year of high school, I found an old DVD copy of Halloween. The picture on the cover was both enough to scare me and intrigue me: A strange and angry-looking white mask against a dark night sky.

I read a little summary on the back, and apparently it was about some babysitters who encounter a serial killer on Halloween night.

Does the killer have a purpose in doing so? I thought. Is he out for revenge?

I started watching the movie. The eerie theme song embedded itself into my memory, never to leave. My mom walked in on me at one point and scared me to death (I was watching in the dark, after all!), and by the time the end credits started rolling, I was craving another slasher flick.

Granted, the next one I watched was Child's Play, and it wasn't as good as I thought it would be. But naturally, there were questions: A doll is a serial killer? Why does a boy want a doll in the first place? Not that there's anything wrong with a boy wanting a doll, but still, unusual.

When I was around seventeen, My brother introduced me to the horror stories that were found all around the internet, better known as Creepypastas. What made these stories unique in their nature were how simple they were written, and the photos and videos that often accompanied them. I always wondered if they were true or false, even though they were categorized as fiction. Reading "Squidward's Suicide" and studying the photo of a depressed-looking Squidward Tentacles at the end of the article made me question if this could be the reason why Spongebob Squarepants had declined in popularity in recent years. Too, after I finished BEN Drowned, I wondered if this so-called haunted game cartridge was at a thrift shop somewhere.

Probably not, but you never know.

My most recent horror encounter took place on the web a few weeks ago, and I still have nightmares about it to this day. I was sick in bed and looking for something to do, so I went online and looked up some games to play. One in particular stood out to me on Steam: Five Nights at Freddy's. I had remembered my brother saying something about this awhile back, but because college had just started for me, I never really got around to playing it. I decided now would be as good a time as ever, especially since the creator was at work making a new game in the series.

Well, I barely made it past Night One on my first try (Stupid Bonnie the Bunny!), but I wanted to just keep trying. There was one area in the restaurant that had an "Out of Order" sign in front, and I wanted to see what was behind those sparkly purple curtains.

I found out the answer on Night Two the hard way. An old, beaten-up fox robot made to look like a pirate ran into my virtual security office and yelled loudly. I should have quit right there, but this game was keeping me up at night with all of the questions it brought about: Did that fox thing cause "The Bite of '87", the tragedy the guy on the phone was telling me about? Also, I had found some old newspaper clippings scattered around the walls of the restaurant. There headlines were alarming: "Kids vanish at local pizzeria--bodies not found"; "Local Pizzeria said to close by year's end."

Then something occurred to me: There were five robots in the game, and the bodies of those five missing children were never found. Could it be that those bodies were somehow placed in the robot suits? It would explain why the robots wandered around and tried to kill me, for sure.

I guess I'll just have to play the next game to find out.

I only read the first half of this story in my class, but my passion for horror is so strong, I had to share the entire story with everyone. Thanks for reading about my dark side!

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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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