It’s always weird to tell people you’re a massive horror fan. I was on a date once and got into a discussion with this guy who honestly couldn’t believe I wasn’t a murdering and raping freak because I enjoy a little blood on the screen. Interesting point though, what makes some people like horror while it gets other people scared shitless?
There’s this thing called The Excitation Transfer Process, which has everything to do with how people feel after watching a movie. Because most people (not me) start to sweat while watching horror and pump up their heart rate and blood pressure, they exit a horror movie distraught. This lingers for a while and because you’re looking back at a negative experience, you don’t want to revisit this feeling.
Sounds kind of… logical. But how about us ‘freaks’ who do enjoy a good sinister and insidious flick once in a while? Well, we’re probably just wired differently. The dangerous feeling is something that some people like and others don’t, just like some people like change and others don’t. And danger disrupts routine, so that’s why those two things are probably more related than it seems. By the way: yes, people who like horror are much more susceptible to stepping into a rollercoaster than people who don’t.
Looking back at my own youth, horror just became a part of my viewing habits. And while I was scared shitless a couple of times (rather by obscure films like Mirror Mirror and Hell Night, although The Blair Witch is certainly high on my list as well), the fact that I was a kid doesn’t mean that I turned into a serial killer. If anything, it might have helped me later on in life by sharpening my senses.
There are some misconceptions about horror fans though. I don’t look like a goth and I don’t know any fan who does. We don’t sacrifice our cats and our parents definitely didn’t necessarily do something wrong. Stories like ‘kids saw Scream and started killing other kids’ are proof of nut cases, not of horror fans gone wild. Then there’s the taste-issue. I watch Iranian divorce dramas, quirky black and white nouvelle vague-films or interesting documentaries about Seaworld just like the next person. I definitely understand what a ‘good horror’ movie entails (Martyrs, Cabin in the Woods, The Babadook) but also have my guilty pleasures (Texas Chainsaw remake, Scream 4, The Faculty). And there are many subgenres, which a non-horror freak will never understand. But no: we don’t all like the same sort of horror.
It’s entertainment, right? Even the really gruesome ones, films like Cannibal Holocaust or A Serbian Film, still understand when to cut away and guide a viewer. There’s a fine line between entertainment and fucked up, but if you don’t like it: don’t watch it. Parents who don’t understand why this exists in the same world their children are being raised have a choice of not watching themselves. But don’t keep your child away from it, developing taste is good for your little one.
Even more than entertainment, it’s an escape. The physical reaction it gives is like nothing else in the world, which gets me excited and a little bit addicted. That’s the real reason I love horror and it’s something I always tell people when they ask.
By the way, that guy and I didn’t work out. He took me to a museum while I would’ve rather gone and watch Sinister 2. And he looked at me like I was about to slice his throat. He made me realize I can only end up with a fellow horror freak who accepts me watching the French shocker Inside (check it out…) on my own with the lights out without booking an appointment with a psychiatrist behind my back.