Why Do We Watch Horror Movies?
Why do we like to watch horror movies?
- The glint of a blade, coated in, and dripping with blood.
- The empty, but ferocious glare, of a brainless zombie as they lurch blindly forward towards their prey.
- An undead being out for blood and torture.
- The demonic depiction of hatred and violence in elements that should lend joy such as clowns and leprechauns.
- The denizens of hell let loose on earth to reign in terror.
- A warped, snapped human mind stalking unsuspecting prey from window to window and camp site to camp site.
These are just a few of the themes that you may see in a modern horror movie. There are others. Oh, there are many others. And the horror movie does not stop adapting to its audience. There are now attractive, teenage vampires everywhere and tale of the religious or occult have found even more success lately.
Fear Is Good
But why do we really watch horror movies? Studies have shown that it isn’t a need for gore or an attraction to reprehensible acts. The same studies also show that a person is less apt to watch a horror movie if they are close to, or often suffer from, experiences of fear and anxiety.
So what does this all boil down to? It is the need for primal emotions to be felt and a change of pace from the ordinary and mundane lives that are spent inside a world controlled by laws, ethics, and moral undertones?
Fans of movies such as “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” would not necessarily stop and watch the butchering of a pig or calf for the meaty carnage. In fact, when the violence and horror that is depicted in horror movies is seen as too real – too close to home – the movie’s emotional grasp loses much of its strength.
A typical horror movie fan is a male between the ages of 15-45. These male creatures are drawn to this genre due to a need, a yearning, for some sort of primal and instinctual pull that reigned over the human mind for thousands of years.
Horror Is A Release From an Otherwise Mundane Life
A great horror movie will distract its viewers from everyday boredom and tedious concerns, and provide that primal need for intense emotional spike. It is more common for a person who had a low-key, boring week to watch a horror movie than it is for someone who had an active, frustration-filled one.
The body knows, physically and emotionally, what it needs and what it wants. And with these primitive needs comes an almost unstoppable power. The mind will not rest until it has received what it is after. However, the mind knows that it can also be extremely fragile. It is uncommon for people to watch horror movies alone.
They are usually viewed with close company and friends. At the very least they are most often viewed in social settings with groups nearby or surrounding the viewer.
The mind must know that while it needs this primitive, horrific element it MUST hold onto reality. And even social settings are sometimes not enough. A person will instinctively look away or distract themselves when they are expectant of scenes in horror movies that will disturb them the most.
Yet, the compulsion to look fights back as the mind is in the midst of a battle within itself; the concern for self-preservation versus the need for the emotional impact. It is for this reason why you will almost always see some people watching a horror movie through their hands covering their eyes.
Instinctual Numbness Calls For Emotional Overload
This is one of the major distinctions in man’s evolution over other forms of life on this planet. You would never see a bird stare as another is mauled by a cat or snatched by a larger flying creature. Their instinctual reactions are to flee and survive.
The human has been at the top of the food chain for so long that it has lost most of its constant vigil for self-preservation. Instead, we put ourselves in these situations out of need or want. The same psychological catalysts are responsible for extreme sports such as bungee jumping and sky-diving.
Ditto goes for risk taking activities such as running with the bulls in Spain or even surfing. But where does it end? As the human being advances further and our life spans get longer will we need even more excitement in our lives?
One cannot discount that, eventually, we may see real life “hunts” such as the ones in "Carnage Park", "Naked Fear" and "The Hunt". Except in the future case men would volunteer to both hunt and be the hunted.
The horror will continue to evolve and the instinctual as the need for adrenaline persists.