If you've ever been so scared by a movie that you have had nightmares, you might wonder, "Why do people like horror movies?" For some, being scared and jumpy isn't an appealing factor in a movie. But for others, horror movies don't have as strong of an effect. Still others enjoy the feeling of being scared by something they know is fake.
What's A Horror Movie?
Many don't know how to define what a horror movie truly is. It is not just a movie that scares someone. The idea of fear is subjective: one person may find Curious George frightening while the next may not have flinched at Nightmare on Elm Street. Factors that define a horror movie include:
- The Supernatural. Though not necessary, many horror movies involve tales of supernatural beings such as aliens, zombies or someone coming back from the dead. On a lesser level, these movies may involve a certain air of science fiction.
- Produced to elicit an emotion. While many horror movies are considered lo-fi, most are produced in such a way as to create fear or anticipation on the part of the viewer. A great example from classic movie maker Alfred Hitchcock is the shower scene in Psycho. One begins to anticipate what will happen before it does.
- Us vs. Them. Many horror movies are focused around the idea of an individual or group that is 'out to get' someone else. This sense of someone out there trying to 'get at' a main character in the film is a popular mechanism of driving plot in horror films.
Why Do People Like Horror Movies?
Still interested in figuring out "Why do people like horror movies?" Don't worry, there are plenty of answers to that question!
- A passion for film that 'does something.' For some people, movies and cinema in general should be a feeling. To them, movie posters and marketing blitzes are nice but nothing compared to the feeling a movie can bring. As a result, horror movies are appealing because of the way that they build a feeling in watchers. Whether that feeling be fear or danger or just sadness, the feeling highlights the movie experience.
- The movie is exciting. Some people do not get frightened by movies or the like. Instead, seeing violent killing scenes or driving plots is an exciting element that appeals to the viewer on a deeper level. Viewers like this get hooked easily into what is going on and find joy in trying to guess the plot.
- Relief. If you've ever been relieved that a stressful situation has ended, you likely know the feeling of relief that can come afterwards. to those that are frightened half to death by a horror movie, the end result can be similar to relief. When the film ends and there is some sense of conclusion, viewers can enjoy the feeling that is left over.
- Being a part of something. Many horror movies fan are looked at as a cult group. Fans tend to group together and dissect films much in the way that a reading group would dissect a book. As one might imagine, the feeling of being a part of a larger group coupled with the intellectual simulation of looking at a movie in a rational way can be almost as much fun as watching the movie itself!
- Passion for cinema. If you've ever looked at a movie to see if it was done 'right' or to learn filmmaking techniques, you likely know that many horror movies are amongst some of the the best directed movies out there.
A Final Thought
Whether or not you understand the answer to the question of "why do people like horror movies," have no fear: you don't have to 'get it' to enjoy them. Be sure to pop in a few horror flicks like Alien 3 or The Shining and enjoy getting scared with your friends!