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The Psychology of Fear

Understanding the Appeal and Impact of Horror Movies

By Kel Published 2 months ago 3 min read
The Psychology of Fear
Photo by charlesdeluvio on Unsplash

Horror movies have been around for over a century and continue to be one of the most popular and enduring genres in cinema. From classic horror films like Nosferatu and Frankenstein to modern horror franchises like The Conjuring and The Purge, horror movies have captivated audiences with their ability to tap into our primal fears and provide a cathartic release. In this article, we'll take a closer look at what makes horror movies so appealing, how they impact our culture and society, and their potential impact on our mental health.

One of the key elements of horror movies is the use of suspense. By building up tension and anticipation, horror movies can create a sense of dread in the audience. This can be achieved through the use of music, lighting, camera angles, and pacing. For example, a horror movie might use a slow, creeping camera movement to build tension, followed by a sudden jump scare to release that tension. The use of suspense can make the horror movie experience even more intense and immersive.

Another important aspect of horror movies is the portrayal of violence and gore. While this may seem gratuitous to some viewers, it serves an important purpose in the genre. By showing graphic violence and gore, horror movies can create a visceral reaction in the audience. This can be a way to shock and disturb viewers, heightening the overall sense of terror. Additionally, the use of gore can be a way to explore themes like mortality and the fragility of the human body.

However, it's worth noting that not all horror movies rely on violence and gore. Some horror movies, like The Blair Witch Project or Paranormal Activity, use a more subtle approach to scares. These movies rely on a sense of realism and believability, using found footage or documentary-style filming to create a sense of immersion. By creating a sense of plausibility, these movies can make the scares even more effective.

In addition to building suspense and using violence and gore, horror movies also rely on the creation of memorable characters and monsters. From iconic movie monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein's monster to modern horror icons like Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees, horror movies have introduced memorable characters that have become deeply ingrained in our popular culture. These characters often reflect societal fears and anxieties, such as fears of technology, the unknown, or societal breakdown.

Horror movies can also have a lasting impact on our culture and society. For example, George Romero's Night of the Living Dead introduced the concept of the modern zombie, a trope that has become a staple of horror movies and popular culture. The movie also had significant cultural impact, as it featured a black protagonist in a time when racial tensions were high in the United States. Similarly, movies like Get Out and Us have used horror to explore issues of race and identity, challenging audiences to confront uncomfortable truths about our society.

In addition to reflecting societal fears, horror movies can also shape our perception of real-world issues. For example, horror movies that deal with topics like mental illness or addiction can either perpetuate negative stereotypes or challenge them by portraying these issues in a more empathetic and nuanced light. Similarly, horror movies that deal with social issues like racism or sexism can either reinforce these issues or challenge them by presenting alternative perspectives.

Furthermore, horror movies can also be a way to explore and subvert traditional gender roles. While horror movies have often portrayed women as helpless victims, recent years have seen a rise in horror movies that place women in positions of power and agency. Movies like The Babadook, A Quiet Place, and The Descent feature strong female protagonists who challenge gender stereotypes and demonstrate their ability to survive and overcome adversity.

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About the Creator


Im 50% coffee, 50% pizza and 100% sarcastic.

I've been writing since i could hold a pencil and have my first poem published when i was 8 years old. Writing is my passion and i hope that comes across in my work.

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  • Michele Hardy2 months ago

    Great breakdown of how horror movies can have a positive effect on our lives! Loved this. Great job!

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