Why Do We Love Scary Movies?
Hi, my name is Eric and I am a scary movieaholic.
The month of October is easily my favorite month of the year and it’s not because of the comfortable, cool, crisp weather. It’s not because both the MLB playoffs and the NFL are here. No, it’s because I get to overdose on horror movies. Yes, I admit it. I just can’t stop. The question I’ve been asked many times is “Why do you love these movies so much?” My answer, “I have no idea. Please help me!”
So with that question in mind I searched around on the web a little for some information and came up with some interesting points coming from the professionals who study behaviors of folks like me. They have come up with their conclusions as to why we horror fans can’t stop searching for that next big SCREAM!!!!
According to the 2007 WebMD article called "Why We Love Scary Movies" people look for scary movies as a way of coping with their own actual fears or violence. It helps cushion the blow I suppose of the real-life horrors we may face along the way. They also cite the master of horror story telling Stephen King, who once said these movies act as a sort of safety valve for our cruel or aggressive impulses. He feels it's best to get out your aggression by watching the terror unfold on the big screen rather than act on it yourself.
In a 2015 Psychology Today article called "Why Do We Like Watching Scary Films?" Psychology Professor Dr. Mark Griffiths cites fellow Psychology Professor Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein who said, "People go to horror films because they want to be frightened or they wouldn't do it twice....People have the ability to pay attention as much or as little as they care to in order to control what effect it has on them, emotionally and otherwise."
That is the quote that I can relate to most. I always tell people that when a movie gives me a real good scare - like when I feel like I'm going to jump out of my seat - I feel alive and that's a good thing. Instead of turning to drugs or alcohol for a high I get it from a good old fashioned scare in the theater. No cop is going to pull you over for that.
The same article talks about a 2004 paper by Dr. Glenn Walters where it gives three primary factors that make Horror films so alluring. They are 1) Tension, 2) Relevance, and 3) Unrealism. The tension comes from the suspense, mystery, terror and gore while the relevance refers to the viewer relating to a story-line. The unrealism factor is really the opposite of reason two (Relevance). We enjoy the fact that what we're seeing is so over the top that we find some sort of comfort in knowing something like this will never really happen.
So if you are a horror fanatic like me maybe you feel a little better after today's session. Shall we meet back here again same time next week? I'll be sure to bring plenty of Hitchcock films with me.