Content warning: This article contains mentions of suicide. Reader discretion is advised.
Horror and tragedy have remained a staple in popular literature and entertainment for over a thousand years; Grecian tragedies often involved a few mutilated organs along with woeful descriptions of suicide (cue Oedipus), and who can forget, Shakespeare; his interest in writing tales of the accidental murder of kin, or even the ghost of king Hamlet.
Horror as a genre is wide, encompassing non-fictional thrillers, occult movies, slashers and religion-centric exorcisms among others. As a fan of horror, I have to admit, I don’t know why I enjoy the genre. Death doesn’t excite me, and I would like to believe that I’m not craving the destruction of peaceful communities by an ancient evil entity. I am also by no means a brave soul; quivering and shaking with my hands covering my face even at the dreadful anticipation of eventual jump-scares.
Researchers worldwide have studied and surveyed the interest in horror movies as a genre. Although, they believe that much needs to be done in this area of study. They hypothesize that lower levels of empathy lead to higher enjoyment of horror and gore, adding that men and boys prefer watching the genre to women and girls, according to a study. This study also concludes that the ‘startle’ reflex is amplified during this experience. Another research states that “low neuroticism, high sensation and loneliness” are good predictors of why a person seeks out movies with such elements.
Most horror movie fans state that they seek out the adrenaline and a feeling of dread and some find it intriguing to explore the complex universe that tries to remain true to ours while adding elements that make us uneasy. Others enjoy this genre for its production, enthralled by practical and graphic effects that plays an often central part in its creation.
Horror has found its permanent position in the commercial film market, regularly providing movie-goers with ghastly visuals and carefully crafted lore that enhances the audience’s immersion in the movie. Every year, the Halloween season releases dozens of movies made with the singular intention of scaring the viewer (try explaining this to aliens!). Horror is certainly a tried and tested genre, evoking fear, disgust, shock and several weeks’ worth of nightmares. What gets you spooked?