Why do we love horror movies?

May 4, 2022
Max Gruber 0
Film

Horror movies are like marmite, you either love them or hate them. But with horror movies being a genre that’s repeatedly on our cinema screens, it would suggest that most of us love a spine-tingling horror every once in a while. The continuous success of big horror blockbusters such as Saw, Final Destination, and The Conjuring universe proves that horror films don’t have to be in good taste to be an economic and crowd-pleasing success. So why do we love the feeling of being frightened? Read below to find out the psychology behind why we love horror movies.

Why are horror movies so addictive? 

Horror films, according to social psychologists, delve into our primal fears of infection and being devoured, which underpins the popularity of zombie flicks and those starring gigantic carnivores. Horror films effectively provide a secure environment for us to mentally practise dealing with age-old threats. Surprisingly, the more uncomfortable emotions a person claims to feel while watching a horror film, the more likely they are to appreciate the genre. One explanation is that some people, particularly thrill seekers, take enjoyment in the sensations of relief that accompany acute fear.

There’s a horrifying formula

The following three factors hold the key to a horrifying formula, making horror such an appealing genre.

Suspense

Suspense offers a sense of mystery, dread, shock, or fear – and really does keep us on the edge of our seats.

Relevance

Relevance in horror movies establishes a cultural or personal link by appealing to an innate fear of death, for example, which is something that we can all relate to.

Unrealism

A distinguishing factor that separates the spectator from what they’re viewing and reality, giving for a sense of distance from the events shown. 

The combination of relevance (constructing a personal connection, a way for us to feel deeply involved in the protagonist’s survival or the unfolding events) and unrealism (the detachment from what we’re seeing) can be used to understand why we can watch graphic, gory films while attempting to avoid comparable real visuals in documentaries or media stories.

The aftermath

It’s possible that it’s not only the thrill of watching horror flicks that we love; it’s the afterwards that really makes us feel good. Our pulse rate, blood pressure, and breathing all elevate when we watch scary movies. Our physiological reactions are still present as the movie concludes.

An impulse transfer process might occur, which means that any high sentiments we have intensify, overshadowing any bad feelings we may have had. This can make us desire to replicate the experience: we’ve fought our anxieties and triumphed, and now we want to do it all over again.

Reviews of all the latest horror movies with Ready Steady Cut

Luckily, all of our TV and film critics are incredibly brave and not at all phased by the blood and gore of horror movies, so we can give you an honest review of whether the latest thriller is worth your time. Keep up to date by regularly checking our streaming service and TV shows pages for all the newest reviews.