Horror Movies Soothe Me

Before you think I’m great big weirdo, let me explain.

For a significant portion of my life, if something massive could go wrong, and not just go wrong, but go wrong out of nowhere, it did. It crafted me into a person who over-analyzes most situations, even benign and brief ones.

I have anxiety. Sometimes it isn’t so bad and other times it’s downright debilitating. In a split second, I can imagine an array of worst-case scenarios from simply uncomfortable to downright dire. It’s awful. Sometimes I will hear something outside while my partner is walking the dog and my brain immediately races thinking Cloud (our magical dog) might have gotten off his leash and be running in the street. I could give you a dozen more examples of how this plays out for me but, suffice to say, it can be terrible quickly and without warning.

I don’t often talk on my phone, and when I see certain people call, I feel sure someone has died. There is no precedent for this, yet the thought goes through my mind, even though I know it is likely absurd.

This issue is just one aspect of my dumb anxiety; I have to literally tell my brain it is misfiring concerns.

Back to horror movies.

Watching a horror movie, whether good or bad (and I do have a fondness for both), allows the parts of my brain that run through those awful scenarios to let loose in a safe way; I know the movie will have a resolution (or at the very least, a conclusion) and I will be fine. It’s almost a form of stress relief.

It’s not that I enjoy gore; I don’t. It’s not that I enjoy suffering; I truly don’t. I enjoy the atmosphere of so many horror movies.

I enjoy atmosphere in many forms.

What made me think about this was a trailer I saw yesterday for an upcoming horror film called Hell Fest. It takes place at a traveling amusement park; a location that hooks me every time. I am a huge sucker for anything set in an amusement park, particularly horror films, novels, or video games. It has aesthetic lighting; I am a huge fan of intense, brightly colored lighting (it reminds me of dance clubs, another preferred locale). It takes place on Halloween night; Halloween is my favorite holiday.

Basically, even if the movie isn’t good, I’m still going to be into it for all those reasons. It will certainly be one of the few movies I catch in the theatre when it releases this September.

I like that horror movies allow me to work through (even in a passive way) those troublesome and worrying emotions, and then show me I will be okay on the other side of the film experience. Perhaps that sounds bizarre, but I find it’s the truth for me.

Also, I just really like horror movies; I appreciate them on multiple levels. I’m a huge fan of slow burn horror and the eventual payoff. The first example that comes to mind is House of the Devil. I love that it pays homage to the horror films of the ’80s without being trite and heavy-handed.

As many of you know, each Friday is Horror Movie Friday for me. I try to watch a new-to-me horror movie each Friday and I think it does more for me than entertain. Sure, I watch them other times, too (sometimes all through the week), but I love having that day to look forward to each week. I love trying to assemble the pieces of the mystery to make sense of the film at hand. It helps me work through some of those feelings I deal with when my brain over analyzes.

Also, if you like horror movies, check out the trailer for Hell Fest. I’m digging the vibe.

You know what? I just got Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare and I was saving it for tomorrow but I think I’m going to watch it today instead. That’s the other good part about all these horror movies: I can take the roller coaster ride on my terms whenever I want, and I’m sure that makes my brain feel empowered to “deal” with those emotions.

Horror movies just might be the cheapest faux therapy around.

11 replies »

  1. As someone that suffers from major anxiety, I can relate to alot of what you described and while I’ve never really thought of it that way, it may very well explain my love of the horror genre.

    Hell Fest looks like a blast. I’ll be making a trip out to see that one for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a horror fanatic, I don’t know if “soothe” describes my love for the genre. But I do get the atmosphere thing. It’s an important piece of the puzzle to success. I think it’s a problem with most modern horror films, they lack atmosphere which in return destroys the tone and ability to connect with the situation at hand.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh man, atmosphere can make up for a lot. One of the best examples of atmosphere in recent memory is the horror novel Hex. With each passing page, I felt like there was an ambient noise growing louder and louder and putting me on edge. I plowed through the book in one day because I just wanted whatever was going to happen to happen and when I was done reading, the experience hung over me for days. Literally. It took me probably three days to come out of what I can only describe as a fog. I absolutely recommend Hex if you are into horror novels.

      Liked by 1 person

        • WHEEE!! It’s even more impressive given the author is Dutch and he not only wrote the original, but did the edits on the English translation as well. He changed the ending (drastically) during the translation but I highly encourage you to not read anything about that before reading the book. I’m glad I waited until later, as it would have changed the mounting tension for sure.

          Oh man. Now I just want to read it again.

          Liked by 1 person

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