“Danger does not lurk at every corner. It is just hanging out, waiting for fear and horror to show up.”
Whenever we talk about horror movies or series, names that instantly pops up in our mind are The Lodge, The Grudge, Insidious, Annabelle, Conjuring, It, The Nun, Rings, The walking dead, and many more. But still, the question remains the same, “Are these shows healthy for the audience?”
Now, let us see what happens when you watch these shows; when you are in the middle of a movie, your heart rate, and inspiration increase. There is an arousal of the sympathetic nervous system and the activation of adrenaline.
Some of us find it fun, but most people see them as terrifying. For this, there is a theory known as The Emotion Theory, “Emotion Theory states that interpretation of the same physiological cues can be different because it is dependent upon the individual.” So, depending on people, some can experience horror movies with a rapid heartbeat and increased breaths. Some will find it enjoyable with just an adrenaline rush, but those who find them terrifying will experience distress and trauma.
Have you ever thought about how and when the horror genre came into account in the world of films? Well, Horace Walpole originally invented the horror genre whose book Castle of Otranto (1765), known as the foundation stone of the horror story as a legitimate literary form. The horror genre has ancient origins with religious traditions, mainly focused on deaths, the afterlife, evil, the demonic, and the principle of things embodied in an alive person. The first horror film made is a French movie, namely “Le Manoir du Diable” in 1896, by Georges Méliès.
Visual and verbal causes impact of horror. But along with that, one of the most significant elements of it is auditory. The door creaking, scream, the shriek of an owl, hiss of a cat, ringing of the phone, falling of objects, quite a forest night, these are the things designed to create a feeling of suspense and fear. One of the most used tropes in horror films is a prolonged silence period and then the so-called – jump scare, accompanied by a loud sound.
The primary aim of horror shows is to horrify, frighten, disgust using references of supernatural, abnormal, mutilation, blood, infliction of pain, deformity, darkness, and many more. Although horror films are commercially successful, still it has low esteem compared to another genre. The horror genre was losing its recognition until the Stephen King adapted novel movie IT (2017) generated $700.4 m in global ticket sales, making it the financially successful horror film. This success led to a sequel released in 2019 as IT: Chapter Two.
Now, what are the effects of horror films on humans? According to research done at the University of Turku, Finland, subjects watching scary movies and experiencing jump scares had brain activity in the region, mainly involved in emotion processing, threat evaluation, and decision making. Our brains continuously anticipate and prepare us for action in response to a threat, but horror movies exploit this sensation expertly to enhance our excitement towards the show.
Why do people watch horror movies? One of the main reasons for watching horror movies is the suspense. The tension created from the uncertainty can arise from events like conflict, dissonance, and instability. The enjoyment built up during horror films is due to the suspense’s negative effect. The movie and the positive impact or reaction when the threat or tension is resolved. If the uncertainty is not resolved, it can lead to increased dysphoria.
Watching a horror movie has both pros and cons:
According to the professors at the University of Wisconsin, horror movies make your brain work harder. It’s been scientifically proving that people become smarter and more mature after watching many scary movies, especially women.
Surprisingly, they can make your immune system better. Sometimes when you hold some stress inside, the film’s fear would help release your tension in the form of anxiety. It is better to release your stress harmlessly just by screaming.
Scary movies prepare your mind as to when to react and how to react in a life situation. They will give you the “survival asset,” which you always do not have to overachieve. But sometimes you should feel glad that you are alive and survived every problem you have been through.
These movies can help cure your phobias. Many therapists use scary movies and their settings to allow patients to overcome their phobias and personal fears.
If you are too weak to watch these movies, they can shatter your nerves.
You can also suffer from paranoia about everything around you – mirrors, closets, showers, streets, beds, windows.
The positive and negative effects of them depend on person to person. But if you show some adverse effects after watching scary movies, I would better suggest you stay from them because it could lead to something more significant and dangerous.
~ By Shivangi Singh