Why We Love Horror Movies

Fear is powerful — especially at the movies. From creature features to social thrillers, this is the psychology of why we love horror films. 🍿😱

Does anything really scare us anymore?

Horror movie fans spend more going to the cinema than traditional moviegoers, and scary films rake in more money year over year according to Movio. But why do we love being scared at the movies? 2017 marked the first year the horror genre earned over $1 billion at the box office based on an article from Variety.

“Horror movies as a genre allow filmmakers to express ideas that they may not otherwise be able to do as safely. So, for instance, Jordan Peele’s "Get Out" and "Us" wrestle with questions of race in American culture but are able to do that within the safety of the horror genre. So, people think that they're going to see a horror movie and are really getting lessons in the history of race relations. Ultimately, horror movies are a social experience. We want that monster to be killed. And just like ever was the theater, we wanted to see the people in the cabin escape with our lives. We love the thrill of testing our sensations, of being scared while knowing that we're really in a safe place and no harm will really come to us. When we're watching movies, we typically are suppressing our motor action. We know it's a movie. We know we should stay in our seats, but sometimes the perception is so strong that it triggers an emotion that overrides our cognition. And we jump or we scream. We might be a little embarrassed that we've done that. After all, it is only a movie. So, we look to our friends and we start laughing, Oh, I can't believe the movie got me to do that. And that laughter is really a social conditioning,” Manhattan College Communications Professor Michael Grabowski tells Brut.

Grabowski says the new crop of social horror-thriller films such Get Out, The Babadook and Parasite show how the genre is expanding.