Written by Ben Casey. Media by Emma Canady.
I love horror films. You can experience nearly every emotion in the genre, from the hilarity of films like Dr. Giggles or to the genuine dread I feel watching movies like Sinister to the primal fight-or-flight feeling I get from watching It Follows.
So what is it that makes me want to be afraid? That makes me want to look at the gruesome and call it entertainment? What makes anyone want to do that?
To answer this question, we have to ask a few preliminary questions.
So, what is fear? In the biological sense, fear is that fight-or-flight feeling humans developed because anyone who didn’t have it was eaten by lions, tigers or bears (oh my!). The chemicals released from that also happen to be similar to what we feel on roller coasters. It’s an adrenaline rush. It’s the excitement that gets us. That’s one reason why we might enjoy jump-scares.
You might be saying, “but what about other types of horror? The psychological horror? The gore? The things that make us love Lovecraft, suffer Stephen King, and re-live Romero over and over?”
People like horror because they need to confront their fears. It’s a rite of passage of sorts, a way to prove yourself that has been around since tribal times. Horror author Stephen King suggested that we enjoy viewing disturbing images of gore or fear as a way of dealing with our own intrusive, sometimes dark and violent thoughts.
I decided to get the opinion of a few Greenville students on horror. Greenville, despite its seemingly vanilla exterior, has quite a few horror fans. In the spirit of Halloween and tempting fate, I asked thirteen students what they thought of horror movies.
First, I simply asked students whether or not they enjoyed horror films. Seven out of the thirteen did. Next, I asked for specific types of horror movies, divided into the broad categories of gore-filled horror movies, psychological horror movies, and jump-scare horror movies. While none of these things are mutually exclusive within films, they divided movies by how they were scary.
Of the seven students, three enjoyed gore-filled horror movies, three enjoyed psychological horror films, and two enjoyed jump-scares in their horror movies.
The reasons why they enjoyed the movies ranged from pure fun entertainment to enjoying the thoughts evoked by the lesson the horror movie taught at the protagonists’ success or downfall.
Brian Ehresman, who enjoys mainly psychological horror movies, said they seem realistic, and talked about how horror movies make us aware of the healthy amount of fear we should and do have over many subjects or situations. He sighted The Call as his favorite horror/thriller film.
Nic Gundy’s favorite horror movie is Saw, stating that the adrenaline rush from the suspenseful and often gore-filled scenes are like nothing else.
So maybe you’re a hardcore horror fan, looking forward to revisiting some classics in celebration of Halloween, or maybe you’ve never liked horror but are willing to give it another shot. Either way, if you’re looking for some horror recommendations, here’s a flowchart of a few classic horror movies you may enjoy!