Why do we like to watch scary movies?
It’s true that some people enjoy watching horror movies, and lust after frightening thrills as a way to magnify their delight with the genre, while others can’t even make it through a haunted house. Why is this? Why do some people respond differently to fear? If fear is our natural response to dangerous threats, why would we routinely seek it out rather than respond based on our instinctual programming? Well, it all comes down to our brain’s chemistry, as some people welcome more risky situations with open arms. So, regardless of whether you gain a natural high from your fight or flight response, it’s interesting to see why some individuals get a kick out of horror-movie binge-watching.
People enjoy being frightened by horror movies
While it’s odd to think that being scared is enjoyable, one of the reasons that we willingly subject ourselves to films that are fearful and suspenseful is because we take great pleasure in the feeling of our hearts pounding, combined with effects like heavy breathing, cold sweats, and deep, pitted butterflies. However, since movies work as a safety net from real life, it’s easier for us to deactivate our natural responses to calmly enjoy the experience at no risk. Plus, the rush of adrenaline and release of endorphins and dopamine offers a thrilling sense of euphoria which is enrichingly gratifying when you’re enveloped in the plot sequence of a cinematic, horror experience. So, regardless of whether you laugh or cry during gory scenes if you continue to re-watch the best horror movies ever made, chances are that it’s because you crave the fear of the unknown and explicitly, will continue to engage with this dark behavior.
Our collective subconscious connects with horror movies
There really is a science behind it, as many researchers have written theories about the psychological connection between the human subconscious and their attraction to horror. For example, “tapped in primordial archetypes buried deep in our collective subconscious – images like shadow and mother play an important role in the horror genre.” This proposes that horror movies are trying to relate to our psyche and when their stories connect by casting “shadows” or portraying a “mother” figure, we envelop this human connection within the film. Also, watching frightening scenes or the anticipation of jump-scares works as a way of purging our negative emotions and pent-up aggression. After all, we all experience day-to-day stress and while we may joke about “killing our boss” due to a recent lay-off or “running over our ex-partners” because they cheated, most people are not capable of following through on these intense emotions. So, essentially some of the best horror movies have heightened their plot sequences to better understand the global appeal of horror cinema and study the lure of the genre and how well it connects to what we face in our real lives.
Horror movies tackle societal fears
Whether you’re binge-watching the best horror movies of all time or you’re simply picking a random independent horror, the truth is that many films tackle the trial and tribulations of history. For example, if you look at two societal issues such as a mistrust in authority figures or a reflection of viral pandemic fears, these two problems are definitely topics that cross national boundaries, as well as fit into various cultures around the world. So, when a horror movie has a corrupt cop being paid off by the killer or a zombie virus that spreads to create an apocalyptic world, these are plot sequences that are a real reflection of societal fears, which is why we crave the ability to watch how it all plays out.
Why do you love watching horror movies? Drop a comment below to share with our readers.