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Why do we like horror?

Updated: Apr 6, 2023

Why Do We Like Horror?

We all have fears, whether it's heights, spiders, or something else. But what about horror? Horror stories are about our worst nightmares coming true and often involve supernatural elements like ghosts, vampires and werewolves. The genre has existed for centuries because it taps into our primal fears—and usually delivers a satisfying resolution. So why do we like horror so much? Let's look at why you might find yourself turning on a scary movie tonight…

Horror is not just a genre; it's an emotion.

Horror is not just a genre; it's an emotion, and it's the feeling of being scared by something you can't control or understand. Horror movies are about fear, and horror books are about fear. Even horror video games are about fear!

But why do we like to be scared?

Horror has been around for centuries because it connects with our fears, but it's also fun to watch!

Horror is a way of exploring our fears and confronting them. It's also fun to watch because it allows us to live vicariously through characters who fight back against their fears, making us feel powerful in the process. And finally, horror provides an escape from our daily lives; we want some excitement in our life too!

It taps into our most primal fears.

Fear is a powerful emotion that evolved to protect us from threats, and we're hard-wired to respond quickly to danger. Fear is also contagious--one person's fear can quickly spread through a group.

Fear of the unknown (and what lies beyond) is one of our most primal fears as humans. We don't know what's in space or deep underwater; it could be anything! With horror movies, we can explore these fears safely: by watching someone else do it instead of having our characters venture into new territory onscreen ourselves.

Another big topic for horror fans is death itself--not only dying but also being killed by someone else or some other entity that wants us dead (or worse). We are scared because it takes away our control over ourselves and makes us powerless against whatever threatens us with pain or death--and thus taps into another primal instinct: survival at all costs!

The genre offers a wide variety of stories that appeal to different people.

Horror is a genre that appeals to people with different tastes. Some like the thrill of being scared, while others enjoy the stories themselves. Horror stories often involve overcoming challenges, which can be exciting and empowering for some people; they give us a chance to see how characters react when faced with difficult situations.

We like to see how characters react and overcome challenges in horror stories.

In horror stories, characters are often ordinary people forced to overcome their fears to survive. In many cases, they must face tough choices we would not like to make ourselves.

For example, in The Thing (1982), an alien life form takes over the bodies of other organisms and imitates them perfectly. An American research team finds itself stranded at an isolated outpost in Antarctica after their plane crashes nearby. When another member joins them after escaping from what appears to be an alien spacecraft--but may actually be one of two other survivors from another base--the scientists must decide whether or not he is human or if he has been taken over by a shapechanging creature similar to those seen earlier on board:

Themes such as redemption are common in horror stories.

Redemption is a theme in many horror stories, and it's a common theme in other genres, including action movies and Westerns. Redemption means that someone makes amends for their past actions by doing something good or helpful. In the horror genre, this can mean that a villainous character turns out to have a heart of gold and becomes an ally of the protagonists (like Norman Bates in Psycho).

In some cases, redemption comes after death--when it would be too late for anyone else to save them from their fate (as with Freddy Krueger).

Horror is a popular genre because it tells exciting stories, provides us with escapism from our lives and makes us feel powerful by showing us characters who fight back against their fears.

Horror is a popular genre because it tells exciting stories, provides us with escapism from our lives and makes us feel powerful by showing us characters who fight back against their fears.

Horror can be used to tell any kind of story, but some common themes run through most horror movies:

  • Horror is often used to critique society or culture (e.g., The Exorcist).

  • Horror can also be used as social commentary on topics like racism (Get Out), gender identity (The Silence of the Lambs) or environmental issues like pollution (It Comes at Night).


We have seen that horror stories are popular because they tell exciting stories, provide us with escapism from our lives and make us feel powerful by showing us characters who fight back against their fears. However, these stories are only meant to be enjoyed as entertainment--they're not real! If you find yourself feeling afraid or uncomfortable after watching a scary movie or reading a book about monsters, try turning off the lights in your room and listening to music before falling asleep: this will help calm down any anxiety caused by bad dreams (and gives them less power over us).

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