Scary movies are SCARY. Why do humans like them?!
This is something I do not get.
Scary movies are SCARY. Right? Not to mention they have significant physical and emotional impact on both body and mind.
With Halloween having come and gone, this had me thinking about FEAR and why some people thoroughly enjoy the thrilling ride and why others (me) would simply rather not.
Scary movies scare the sh*t out of me, and I suppose that is what they are meant to do, but I do not enjoy them. I hate feeling scared; my imagination runs wild and dreams haunt me for days, long after the credits have rolled.
Think about this: humans spend their hard earned money so that they can sit in a dark room and experience fear. WEIRD.
Horror films elicit very real, palpable reactions.
And if you get through it, if you make it until the end...
Most people experience a feeling of elation and satisfaction.
That's where I no longer relate. I feel all of the fear, the jumpy bits, the tears, the screams, the gasps, the white-knuckled grip on the arm rest... But the positive reaction of "Oh ya that was awesome!" evades me. The only thing that sticks is the impending feeling that I made the wrong choice by entering the theatre.
For those that DO enjoy it, there's a theory that this is because of excitation transfer.
People go for scary movies because of how they feel AFTER the movie, a professor out at Purdue University did some research on what happens to humans when they watch scary movies... Here's what he found: increased heart rate, blood pressure and respiration. This means that your body is physiologically aroused (GET YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER), and that arousal lingers after the movie ends. If you are with friends and having a great time after, this positive emotion is intensified. So we focus on how amazing we feel after, and this increases our chances of wanting more. (Now if you're like me and walk out of the theatre an emotional mess who just wants a hot bath, a glass of wine and a cheesy romantic comedy to get back to normal.. Our excitation transfer will intensify how AWFUL that experience was for us.)
Below is a video we filmed for E! News with Living Dead Productions just in time for Halloween. This is as scary as I like life, not scary at all.