The Spill on Spook

Trick or Treat: Why We Are Drawn to Horror Movies?

December 28, 2012 by   | Category: Articles

It happens almost every Friday. Groups of people, young and not-so-young, flock to the theaters for a good scare. If there’s a horror movie running, you can be sure that half the crowd is buying tickets for it. In fact, I’ll admit that I take an unhealthy delight in being scared out of my wits. There’s something very fundamental and primal about being frightened. Fear taps into the innermost recesses of our mind. It is an emotion that every person experiences irrespective of their cultural background, upbringing and social status. As an adversary, there’s nothing that gets the better of us or makes us feel more united, than fear. Given that I’m such a huge fan of the horror genre myself, I’ve always been curious to understand my own fascination with it. So here’s taking a stab (pun intended) at what makes us squirm through the endless sequels to Saw or an hour and half of The Ring.

Getting to be a kid again: The most obvious explanation of our fascination with horror, is the chance to become a child again. Watching the protagonist hide from a supernatural being makes us regress to the time when we checked under our beds every night for the proverbial monster. Marketing executives know this all too well. Which is why trailers are designed the way they are; to whet the curiosity of your inner child. You find yourself wanting to know more about what happens on that dark deserted road. No matter how grown-up and mature we may become, we’ll always be afraid of dark scary places.

 ~  We love a good scare: Most of us have a morbid fascination for things that frighten us. If you’ve ever been to a carnival, or seen one in movies, you’ll remember the looks on the people’s faces. Out comes the bizarre three-headed cow and although clearly horrified, they’re staring at it with wonder. This is an inexplicable and universal phenomenon. It is also a strong reason why you peer through your fingers or half-shut eyes when the protagonist sees the ghost for the first time.

 ~  It’s Good to be Bad: We all have a set of norms, a code, that we follow every day. Whether it’s not cutting ahead in a queue or tolerating your neighbor’s pesky kid, you toe the line. So, many of us look forward to leaving behind all societal norms for an hour or two of pure misbehavior. Here, we’re not the hapless young girl being chased through the forest; but the maniac wielding the axe. It probably means there’s some deep-rooted issue that needs to be sorted out with a good psychiatrist. But spending a few dollars to indulge in it harmlessly feels like a great release and we never get enough of it!

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