Even though Halloween is over;even though snow is know falling in London (albeit a small amount); and even though I’m writing this while drinking an eggnog latte from Starbucks, the time to watch horror films are not over.
One of my first chapter books I read by myself was Bram Stokers Dracula, and with that classic book my love of horror was ignited. I mostly read horror and most of my stories and poems are in the same genre, and when someone asks me what movie I want to see, it more times then not is in the horror genre. Anything from vampires, to witches and ghosts I will read, watch, and write about. But if you ask any of my friends what my favorite horror monster/character is, they will united tell you “Zombies.” Most of the horror films I watch, if not about zombies, are psychological horrors, movies such as Black Swan, The Secret Window, Shutter Island, and that’s just to name a few.
There are many articles about the effects of horror films on children such as nightmares and desensitization of violence, but there are not many articles or conversations about the effects on adults.
Exhilaration and risk taking - Have you ever been watching a movie and a monster/killer comes up behind the main character, and when you think there going to finally be killed there’s a turn of events were the lead turns around, and somehow, may it be stabbing, kicking/punching, or something else the lead ends up having the upper hand? What did you feel while it was happening? after? Did your heart rate speed up? did you get an adrenaline rush? Afterwards did you feel a sense of exhilaration? Periodic risk taking and adventure are correlated with greater happiness and life satisfaction.Watching an occasional horror movie may provide the same benefits as risk-taking behavior, making you feel more alive.
Desensitization - Repeatedly watching gory horror movies can desensitize a person to violence, which could theoretically alter a person’s behavior. People might also develop changes in there startle reflex’s, either being startled easier or startling less easier because they are used to more high anxiety situations. Horror movies could, for some people, be effective tools for treating fears and phobias. Therapists struggle to find effective, and safe ways to desensitize patients to their anxieties and fears, and horror movies may offer the perfect platform, this can be under the category of “exposure therapy.”
Fear and triggering – For victims of trauma, and people experiencing post traumatic stress disorder, and/or anxiety can trigger panic attacks and flashbacks. Due to being a trauma victim myself and diagnosed PTSD I can say there are some films I will not watch (or unless I have a trusted, close friend/family member with me) such as the movie Teeth.
Sleep difficulties – When I was younger I went through a faze of horrible nightmares after watching more then a few horror movies, alone in just a day or two. This has been the only episode I had of nightmares due solely to horror movies. This nightmares caused me to be afraid to sleep but luckily after a few days my body became exhausted and I my body took care of itself with regards to sleep. Luckily I have gained a mental “thick skin” towards horror films!
Have you had any of these issues with horror films? Have you noticed any positive or negative effects from watching horror?