The horror genre of films is one that is often very divisive, and people are usually massive fans of horror films or cannot stand them, there isn’t often a middle ground. Horror is one of the three basic film genres, which are comedy, melodrama and thriller (or horror). All these genres are able to appeal to basic feelings such as excitement, discomfort, empathy and humour.
But what causes this and why do so many people love horror films so much? These films have engaged audiences worldwide for as long as they have been in existence and have awoken a sense of morbid curiosity in masses.
One of the main reasons cited for the appeal of horror films is the impact they have on the viewer after the film has finished. This period is known as the excitation transfer process and is because watching a terrifying movie increases the speed of breathing, blood pressure and heart rate. Once viewing has stopped these effects still remain for some time, which results in any positive emotions you may feel after watching becoming intensified. The adrenaline rush that a horror film can provided by frightening a viewer, whilst they are actually safe can be something very appealing and is sought after by fans of this genre.
People are willing to endure a sense to terror for the euphoric feeling of release at the end. Watching these films can enable personal and collective limits to be tested in a safe environment, if the film becomes too much you can just cover your eyes. This activation of a feeling is called ‘emotional regulation’. There is also a sense of control with the viewer and the feeling of fear, which can be appealing. It can also be a way to create a distraction away from other emotions at a given time.
Another factor that can help to explain the love of horror films is that many of us use them as a way to try to unravel and understand evil. Examples such as Jekyll and Hyde can be used to show the human divide of good and bad; plus ideas like that of Frankenstein can provide an explanation for human technological arrogance.
Horror film references are now seen in many different places which is testament to how popular they have become and how they have influenced many industries. Take the famous Hitchcock film Psycho, originally released in black and white; quickly became world famous. This film’s ‘shower scene’ is one the most famous film scenes ever and often referred to and many spin off TV series have been created based upon the story of Pyscho, for example Bates Motel. The film has even been used as inspiration for an online slot game ‘Psycho’. Furthermore, it has been inspirational to game developers at mFortune, who have created their exclusive Sherlock: Murdered to Death online slot and Which Witch slot; which are two of their most popular games, showing just how wide reaching and popular horror films are.