Why I Enjoy Watching Scary Movies

“I enjoy watching scary movies.”

When you think about it, that’s a strange claim to make. Why would someone willingly watch something that makes you feel uncomfortable and freaks you out?

Here’s the thing, unless you watch a bit of horror you might not realize that it’s a pretty nuanced genre, there are a lot of rules and traditions. As well as that there are different types of horror which appeal to different people. Some people get a kick out of watching movies with lots of gore and torture (that’s not my thing). Personally, I love trashy horror movies featuring teenagers getting attacked.

There are two main reasons, which are semi-related as to why people watch horror movies. The first is a sense of catharsis you get from watching some average person survive through a horrific experience. It was terrible and disgusting and gross, but they GOT THROUGH IT. And by extension, so did you. A lot of people will say that there’s something wrong with their life, or that they feel stressed, but aren’t able to actually put their finger on what’s wrong. Seeing something horrible and terrifying but also very concrete can help them try to cope with a general feeling of unease in their real life.The Strangers

Another reason that it makes you feel better about your own life is it give you something to compare yourself to. “Well, I know things haven’t been going very well lately, but on the plus side, nobody’s barged into my house wielding a machete.” But for this to happen there needs to be some trust between the creators of the movie and the viewer. The scary thing has to be outlandish and incredible, some people say things like “oh I really liked Paranormal Activity because I could totally imagine that happening to me” and while that’s true, you still don’t really think that you’re going to be attacked by some demon. However, a strange man coming in and stealing your children, that’s way more terrifying, because this is a real thing that actually happens to people and as such, you don’t see much of it in horror films. Joey Comeau touched on this on why horror movies shouldn’t feature rape.

This is why when people ask me what the scariest horror movie I’ve seen is I’ll say Sinister, but then say that you’d be much better off watching The Strangers. Sinister is terrifying, but in crazy, unreal ways, but you still have this sense that there’s no reason why each act in it couldn’t have actually happened (something to keep in mind while watching it is that the story was inspired by director’s actual life). Although The Strangers will still leave you terrified and is about a home invasion, it still makes the whole thing crazy enough that you’re pretty sure it won’t happen to you.

My recommendation for horror if you’ve not really seen any and you’re wondering if you might be interested in it would be something stupid, like Final Destination or Jeepers Creepers. If for some reason you enjoyed that and start wanting more try The Strangers. Only watch Sinister if you’re prepared to be totally and completely terrified (don’t watch the trailer, it spoils most of the scares).

Tell me in the comments why you watch horror, or what your favourite movies are. If I get enough interest I’ll sit down and come up with a recommendation list of different types, because good horror is hard to find.


4 thoughts on “Why I Enjoy Watching Scary Movies

  1. to be honest, I don’t watch horror movies because I can’t stand blood and gore. Even mild amounts make me feel ill – yet the violence doesn’t bother me. Movie where someone gets decapitated but you only see the axe fall, not the actual gross blood spurts etc I’m ok with. But I get where you’re coming from, paranormal Activity had shock value, but no gore, so I kinda liked it. I think your recommendations list should include horror movies for squeamish people.

  2. “you still don’t really think that you’re going to be attacked by some demon”
    Supernatural pretty much ruined my ability to enjoy being home alone, the dark and I no longer trust anyone with black eyes (they’re clearly demons).
    Logically I know such things don’t exist, but that’s fairly irrelevant when every single nerve in my body is screaming out “YOU ARE GOING TO DIE”.

  3. I don’t like being scared. I have pretty terrifying nightmares quite often so I don’t want to give myself any more reasons to have bad dreams. And horror movies often do that. Give me bad dreams.
    I have such an over active imagination that it takes anything and mixes it with my own fears in my sleep. I just can’t deal with that.
    So I’d rather not watch horror movies. At least not for the chill factor. I’ll watch bad ones with friends for a laugh, or chat through one with the lights on, but I’d rather avoid anything that can scare me.
    Boyfriend is very upset I won’t watch scary movies with him, though.

  4. I love scary movies until I actually watch one. I’m really easily scared. Five minutes in and I’m like ‘Okay, sleep won’t be happening for at least the next week’.
    I actually like the more realistic ones better, because usually they catch the guy in the end, so they don’t scare me as much. Like When A Stranger Calls. I jumped throughout but then I was like ‘Yay, they got the bastard!’ and went to sleep.
    But after watching Paranormal Activity I slept in my sisters bed for a week, and I used to term ‘slept’ loosely. Because WHAT IF DEMONS ARE REAL.

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