Horror Made Me a Drug Addict
By Renzo Guevara
The central idea of a horror film is to present something that terrifies you. Despite the negative connotations, it's still one of the most marketable concepts today.
I’ll be honest, I’ve only actually watched 3 horror films in my life, and in one of them, I had my eyes and ears covered for 99% of the runtime.
Horror is the one thing I can’t do and yet, I’m hopelessly fascinated by it.
Horror films are designed to terrify the viewer. The more disturbing, anxiety-inducing, nightmare-causing, and trauma triggering moments it has (basically everything my therapist told me to avoid), the more successful it is as a product.
I told you that I’ve only seen 3 (ok fine, maybe 2 and a half) horror films in my life but I know about hundreds of other scary stories. I read about it, I watched videos that talk about it, I look at images that show it. It piques my curiosity more than anything.
Yea, I like scaring myself ok. What about it?
If you were to ask me what is my most searched on YouTube before, it would be the likes of “Top 10 scariest videos” or “Real Ghost caught on camera OMG”. And yes, Buzzfeed’s Unsolved Supernatural web-series was always a go-to.
Horror is addicting.
2017’s It Chapter One earned 700 million dollars during its theatrical run. A movie that features a killer clown. A. Killer. Clown. Am I the only one here who had to make my mom promise that there were no clowns at every birthday party we went to?
Nothing says a box office hit more than sh*t your pants.
Why do people flock to watch something that most of us have been scared of ever since we learned how to use the toilet on our own? It’s because horror gives us the adrenaline spikes that feel good.
It’s the fight or flight response we get when we see danger on the screen. Our brain is flooded with endorphins and dopamine that all come splashing down when Michael Myers is about to kill the main character. It’s a euphoric experience. We’re essentially sedentary adrenaline junkies at that point. We like being scared.
People seek vicarious experiences.
The idea that you can safely feel what you might not normally feel in your everyday life is something that enhances the experience of horror.
It’s not every day you can say that you’ve watched an exorcism happen (at least I hope not). Your brain knows that you are safe behind that screen and so that enables you to go further down that rabbit hole.
When you fear the unknown, you’re also curious of the unknown.
Remember when your parents told you not to open that box under the tree unless it was Christmas day? And you still sneaked out and tried to do it? Feeling like Ethan Hunt sneaking around the house, carefully calculating the creaks your footsteps produce. Don’t judge, you know you had those moments.
That’s exactly what horror does. You don’t know what’s beyond those woods. The townsfolk keep insisting that the house is not to be disturbed. The sign says that the doll will follow you home if you insult it. And yet, like a real genius, you still want to find out the consequences. Horror films provide that safe perspective for you.
Square up, bro.
Take a shot every time you see the words “based on a true story”.
The Conjuring’s marketing featured a poster saying that there were theaters that had priests on standby because people couldn’t handle the movie. 1979’s Alien had a brilliant tagline that says “In space, no one can hear you scream.”
No one likes to lose on a challenge. Every PR team knows exactly what they’re doing when they market a film with those types of statements.
People crave that sense of catharsis after going through an experience they were told they wouldn’t survive.
Remember the horror film I barely watched? That was the only one I experienced in a theater and it was all because I was with a group of friends who told me I was too much of a chicken to come with. I needed to look good in front of the girls, okay? Give me a break.
Walking out of that theater, neck-deep in sweat, I felt so proud of myself. I then proceeded to sleep with all the lights on for the next few weeks but that’s beside the point.
Horror creates community. The people who get scared together, stay together. No sleepover would be complete without a group of friends trying to power through a horror film. Campfire stories were always a contest of who can tell the most disturbing tale. And maybe that’s why I never went to a single sleepover and camping trip.