Why We Crave Horror Movies

By: Vidur Solanki

kiI have always been interested in why people enjoy horror movies. From the disgusting murder scenes to the bloodthirsty zombies, horror films have attracted viewers for years. Sitting in my basement on a Saturday night with my family watching a scary movie, I constantly question myself why I’m watching the film. However, every time I stay until the very end. Am I a sick person for watching an axe murder hash away at his innocent victims? Why do I stay even though the blood and guts repulse me? As soon as I signed up for this class, the very first article I thought about was “Why We Crave Horror Movies” by Stephen King. This article actually appeared on my verbal section on the biggest nightmare of them all: the MCAT. Stephen King does a brilliant job answering why we enjoy watching horror movies for a couple of reasons. This essay, in my opinion, would make a good preface for this class.

King begins his analysis at a basic level. We watch scary movies to prove to ourselves that we are brave; we can “ride this roller coaster.” We watch these movies for the same reasons we participate in any form of thrill: for fun. But he goes beyond the obvious reasons. The most interesting point King makes to me is that watching scary movies allows us to release “bad emotions” that we have had to hold back due to certain social norms. As a biopsychology major, this is the piece of King’s analysis that most intrigues me. To King, horror movies serve a psychological function. It allows us to unleash our madness and primitive, instinctive nature in a healthy way. Furthermore, King argues that releasing such emotions is not only healthy, but also necessary in order to keep our “good emotions” at surface.

This essay is one of my favorite pieces I have read. Besides the clever use of metaphors and witty statements, a huge reason why this paper appealed to me is because I truly enjoy scary movies, even though while I watch them I constantly question myself, and I’ve always wanted to know why. King’s reasons resonate with me on both levels. I do put myself through these terrifying movies in order to prove a point: because I can. And at a psychological level, I guess it does make sense why we watch these films: because I can immerse myself in a world of violence and gore in a healthy way.

I highly recommend this essay to anyone who enjoys watching these films and have no idea why. Even if you aren’t a horror movie fan, this essay sheds some light on why the horror industry thrives. Stephen King is a renowned horror author and it was extremely interesting reading his own reasons as to why we enjoy horror. Although the MCAT questions that followed were brutal, King’s essay was truly a joy to read.

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