6 reasons horror movies are more than just scares
- October 31, 2023
- Culture and Entertainment
Horror movies, with their eerie atmospheres and spine-chilling narratives, serve a purpose far beyond simply inducing fear and screams. In fact, the genre plays a crucial role in addressing deep-seated fears and anxieties while also giving us unique insights into the human psyche.
This Halloween we’re exploring why the horror genre is more than just scares.
Confronting the unseen
There’s a thought that says we are not really scared of ghosts and ghouls etc., but what we’re scared of in reality is the ‘unknown’. We’re afraid of what we don’t understand. Horror films allow us to confront the unknown and the supernatural, giving a face to our deepest fears. By personifying our anxieties, horror helps us understand, analyze, and ultimately conquer the darkness that often resides within us. Quite a paradox. In the popular movie adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, It, the entity represents the fear of the unknown, specifically the uncertainty and inevitability of death. By giving a tangible form to this fear, the movie confronts us with the idea of mortality and the unknown aspects of life.
Catharsis through fear: Horror and its healing power?
Experiencing fear in a controlled environment can be cathartic. Horror movies are an opportunity for us to release pent-up emotions, stress, and tension. Just as a good cry can be therapeutic, a good scream in a horror movie can be a healthy emotional outlet. In The Babadook, the story revolves around a mother and son’s fear of a supernatural entity. As they confront the Babadook, the themes of grief and mental health are highlighted. The cathartic release comes from the emotional journey of the characters, allowing us to empathize and release our own emotional burdens.
Poignant questions around morality
Horror often takes a dive into the complexities of good and evil, right and wrong. It challenges our moral compass and prompts us to question the nature of humanity. Through the portrayal of monsters and villains, horror movies help us explore the depths of human depravity and the triumph of good over evil. For example, in Silence of The Lambs the iconic character Hannibal Lecter is a brilliant but insane serial killer. Through his interactions with the protagonist, Clarice Starling, the movie intricately explores the psychology of evil and the thin line between genius and madness.
Social commentary that unmasks the horrors of society
Many movies throw in some social and political commentary, using supernatural elements to reflect real-world issues. By examining societal fears and prejudices, horror becomes a powerful medium for critiquing social norms and injustices, encouraging us to think critically about the world around us and raise the right questions that can trigger social change. While not a traditional horror film, the brilliant South Korean movie Parasite elaborates on class struggle and social inequality. Through its suspenseful narrative, it critiques the disparities between the wealthy and the poor, challenging societal norms and raising questions about social mobility and justice.
Horror movies frequently place characters in terrifying situations, allowing audiences to empathize with their struggles. This empathy strengthens our emotional intelligence, teaching us to understand and relate to diverse experiences, even those as extreme as battling supernatural entities. While not a traditional horror film, The Impossible is a survival drama recounts the story of a family’s struggle to survive during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. The intense and horrifying situations faced by the characters definitely evoke deep empathy, especially since the movie is based on true incidents.
In the realm of horror, movie makers and writers are free to explore unconventional ideas and push the boundaries of storytelling. This creative freedom often leads to innovative narratives, inspiring other genres and mediums. The genre acts as a breeding ground for fresh and imaginative concepts. Event Horizon combines space exploration with supernatural horror. A rescue crew investigates a spaceship that disappeared into a black hole and has now returned with something new on board. The movie explores themes of hellish dimensions and psychological horror, resulting in a creative blend of science fiction and supernatural terror.
What we’re trying to say is…
Life is uncertain, and the future is unknown.
Horror is not merely a genre designed to scare us; it’s a mirror reflecting our deepest fears, a catalyst for introspection, and a tool for societal critique.
So, the next time you feel your heart race during a chilling movie, maybe look at it this way: you’re not just experiencing fear – you’re engaging in a profound exploration of the human experience. Or that could be an excuse you give yourself to binge on horror movies this season!