The reasons why we like horror movies

In a horror movie, people are rarely going to do something else at the same time. We are completely absorbed in the action. Up to a point you kind of losing track of where I am, what time it is, what the day it is, and that does the brain good now and then.

Over time, and especially with evolution, our brains have learned to devote all of their attention to the danger they face if they are to survive.

Emotions like fear and physiological responses like stress have always served us well. It allowed our ancestors to survive threats long enough to have the chance to pass their genes to the next generation. Since these characteristics have served the survival of the species so well, it has been preserved from generation to generation.

This Halloween season our basic instincts are entertained by all this bloody and horrifying spectacle, monsters, insanities, and the supernatural. Although viewed more as a niche market, horror films delight avid fans and fill theaters. Getting scared seems like a fun pastime.

The question that can be asked is: why? If we find the horrible so repulsive, why do we pay to go and watch it in the movies or on TV?

Factors that increase the feeling of fear in horror movies:

  • The amount of information before the film.
  • Music and sounds from the movie.
  • The personality and gender of the person watching the film.

Pleasure and satisfactory Hormones:

Fear is a natural emotion. Daily, it is triggered by our survival instinct at the time of danger to put us in a state of vigilance. It makes it possible to verify that our warning system is functioning. 

When you experience this emotion, “hormones like endorphin and adrenaline is secreted,” reveals the professional, and advice to overcome fear. 

Once the emotion has passed, “dopamine, a very addictive satisfaction hormone is a real reward”, continues the psychoanalyst. Satisfied with having overcome fear, we feel pleasure. However, we are not all equal in the face of horror. 

Some people get scared so easily that they don’t prefer to watch these films and others may be addicted to them thanks to the great satisfaction benefit of having overcome fear. 

Watching representations of death sitting on a cinema chair or a sofa also helps to tame and triumph over it.


Hyper Vigilance State

This state of hyper-vigilance allows many to drop out completely, to avoid the rumination of the last few days or the anticipation of the next, hence the interest they find there.

“Being in this state, we are 100 percent in it,” said the researcher. We’re completely focused on what’s going on. So that can be good too, people who tend to always have the rolling hamster, well this is a moment where we give the brain a break, we are 100 percent in the emotion, at the moment. ”

There are also endorphins because once it’s over, we feel better, endorphins are released and endorphins we know, we call them pleasure hormones, so it can become addictive. You might want to go back and experience that emotion.

But ultimately, the brain is not fooled. He knows very well that the danger is not real and that he can extract himself from the situation at any time if it becomes unbearable

Two methods to reduce your fear in front of a horror movie:

  • Desensitization: hiding your eyes (fleeing) and then starting to watch the film again through your fingers (desensitization).
  • The cognitive strategy, which consists of speaking during the film about your fear, as if to reduce it.



Answering this question will not advance thinking about the appeal of horror films. These are not all the same and they do not produce the same effects in the audience. 

This genre of cinema is so vast and varied that it would be difficult to come up with a definition that would include all the horror films made to date. 

Also, we don’t all watch all of these movies for the same reasons. The complexity of the human brain, as well as the great variety in the tastes of horror movie spectators, do not allow us to be satisfied with a simplistic and universal explanation. 

The avenues presented above are far from exhaustive answers to the question. Cinema is seen by some as the ultimate art, an intense and complete sensory experience, a synthesis of all other art forms. 

Photography, dramaturgy, decoration, theater, literature, and music are all found in one form or another in cinema. To come up with a full explanation of the effects of this great art on the human psyche would be impossible. Cinema, like the human mind, can only be reduced to one theory, one definition, or one answer.