We all love horror movies, perhaps obsessively so, right? But, why? Most people think it’s weird and simply don’t “get it”. So, where does this passion come from?
For some of us, I think it runs a little deeper than it just being that we love to be scared.
Horror runs deep in my psyche and it has nothing to do with real-world violent tendencies. In fact, most of us weirdos happen to be some of the sweetest and kindest people around.
I analyze some thoughts on this subject below, but of course it’s important to note that neither you or I or anyone can ever be pegged as one thing or another. Humans are infinitely complex, so all, some, or none of the below points may apply to you. They don’t even all apply to me, these are just my observations.
The most obvious of reasons is that as a child, we had a parent or sibling who also loved horror who introduced it to us or it could have been as simple as we stayed up late one night and caught one of the greats on TV randomly and were forever hooked from that point forward. Things that we came across, in ways we could never have imagined, even the trivial things in our childhood, can leave lasting impressions on us for the rest of our lives.
For many of us, access was difficult (not in my case actually). Horror movies were bastardized by parents, teachers, politicians, and other authority figures as this evil, anti-societal smut that if watched would rot our minds and turn us into misfits. But, the irony, as was the case with anything they tried to keep from us, is that the more they told us it was “bad” or “inappropriate”, the more taboo and mysterious it became, the more we wanting to watch it.
I’ve never subscribed to the idea that fiction dictates life. That is to say, that a violent movie will turn a perfectly normal and healthy child into a psychopath. I think there are much worse influences in our real world that creates for a predisposition to anger or violence.
There could be some correlation to someone who already has a predisposition to violence being attracted to violent music, movies, video games, but that’s just common sense. It’s sort of a “What came first, the chicken or the egg?” question. The idea that fiction, like voodoo (or the tape from The Ring), could magically take over someone and “make them do things” is the stuff of urban legends.
Comfort & Coping
As we grew to our teens, it wasn’t just “cool” or taboo anymore, it actually might have helped us to deal with angst and insecurity and for some of us, being loners or otherwise not “fitting in”. My whole life I’ve been a duality. I’ve been both a “loser” on the outside and the “cool kid” of the in-crowd at different times in my life, back and forth.
The reason for this I think is that I’ve never been anything, but myself, as genuinely and honestly as one can without too much influence from others. What this amounts to when you don’t follow the trends and fads and are more concerned about what you actually like, is that every once in a while it will just happen to align with something that is socially popular and when you like the things that others think are weird, behaving or dressing a certain way, well, you know how that goes.
I can’t definitively explain it (though I’ll try), but horror movies, even to this day, have always offered me comfort. This might sound odd, but there’s always been something safe about turning all the lights out, curling up on the couch in your blanket with one of your favorite snacks, and watching a scary movie, whether alone or with others.
Perhaps it’s feeling like a black sheep and relating to the killer who is an outcast of society or possibly some psychological relation between your own fears in life and the amplified fear when one immerses themselves into a story and then the conquering of that fear and your own personal fears seem to coincide together in a cathartic, calming fashion. Or perhaps it’s just a voyeuristic way to see the extremes of life and remind ourselves that our lives really aren’t so bad or scary.
As we become adults, we experience things much more deeply and have a different appreciation for them. I love going back and watching horror movies from the nostalgia that is my childhood because I fully expect to understand the film in a completely new way and notice things I missed before (or could not have comprehended at a young age). Also, if we were to think of film in a purely art-form context, horror films by far, have the most interesting themes and aesthetics of all genres in that regard.
At the end of the day, while I do enjoy analyzing (the hell out of) things, it’s also great to just relax and say fuck it! Sometimes, you just have to turn your brain off a bit, unwind, and enjoy the things you love even if they defy explanation.
Have fun ghouls!
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