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Why We Watch Horror Movies

Inspired by Stephen King

Of all of the many different genres of movies, horror seems to be one all on its own. Though not for everyone, horror movies are a fun thrill for those who like the adrenaline of it. In Stephen King’s article “Why We Crave Horror Movies” (1982), he lists some points on why he believes we like to attend these movies and feel scared. In this article, King is right in stating that not a single person is completely sane. We all have a little insanity (or mental illness, rather) and we desire to find such excitement so we can feel less alone in our crazy. He is also correct in writing that people oftentimes go for the thrill, like a rollercoaster. People like to feel excited and full of adrenaline, which is why horror movies are the best route to go.

First, we watch horror movies because none of us are completely sane, and it somehow makes us feel alive. Mental illness is instilled in all of us. Each person has something about them that is considered “not normal,” and a lot of times horror films let us see maybe another type of crazy to make us feel more sane. It could be considered a guilty pleasure that most of us have distilled in the depths of our minds. Most wouldn’t admit such a thing, but we enjoy the feeling that others simply have the same mindset as we do, or close to. In King’s article, he is trying to justify that although we may not all be psycho man-slaughterers, being able to witness such a thing gives us the precise amount of adrenaline to go about our day. Although dead baby jokes make us laugh, in our right minds we know we would never actually do such a thing. The joke rather gives us the feeling of relief that someone else said it first. It justifies our laughter instead of giving in to our own mental insanity.

Another reason why we choose to watch horror movies is to release our own sense of aggression. It’s called “catharsis,” which is a way to release an emotion we hold deep inside. For instance, with horror movies, we take our negative emotions and release them in a non-violent way by watching others purge their own manic feelings. We are able to face our fears without actually having to experience the reality of the situation. It gives our minds a type of release sensation. People also use this method when it comes to writing music or short stories. It’s almost as if we can release the tension by making it into a type of expression. Those who make horror movies may not have a more vivid side of their imagination, but instead they are just the ones who choose to express it in such a public way. We should feel thankful for such crooked minded people, because without horror movies, we wouldn’t be able to relate with others and express our own insanity.