Weird Science News! October Edition
By Bhagyashree Behara
The months of October is filled with the presence of bright orange and red leaves, the smell of cinnamon and apples, and a general jovial nature. Despite the general excitement for the upcoming holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukah, etc.) there lurks a darker and much more thrilling presence of Halloween. Scary movies filled with creepy dolls, terrifyingly pale and gaunt women, and clowns who prefer to feast on children, are seen all throughout America. But why do people love scary movies, and more importantly, how large of a role does fear play in the popularity of these movies?
The horror industry understands the psychology of fear and pushes these boundaries in the human mind to make large profits. Unlike romance or comedy, horror is a complete separate genre with many of its movies gaining a strong cult-like following. So why do we like to be scared so much? Psychologists explain that humans like to be challenged or scared when they are still in control. Essentially, it is an innate desire to be scared in a controlled environment. For example, children play hide-and-seek, which is a representation or predator-prey relationship, in a controlled environment and on their own terms, which makes it a fun experience for them. According to https://partner.sciencenorway.no/ , “In this perspective, the horror film becomes a way to test our personal and collective limits in a safe environment. If it gets too scary, you can just cover your ears, put your hands in front of your eyes…” This quote explains the fact that people who watch horror movies have ways of controlling their fear and can hide or shut their eyes to cope with their fear. Other reason people love watching scary movies is because they are bored. Horror movies push the imaginary line between reality and fantasy, which makes for a very exciting movie. People who watch horror movies enjoy this boundary being pushed as it results in a thrilling experience. The reason they watch horror films is recognized by a phenomenon known as sensation seeking. Dr. Johnston (a psychologist) published in her 1995 issue of Human Communication Research that , “gore watchers typically had low empathy, high sensation seeking….thrill watchers typically had both high empathy and sensation seeking.” This means that those who watch horror films, whether they have high or low empathy for the characters, are always seeking sensation. These sensations include fear, adrenaline, and high energy. The horror industry knows this about people and has capitalized on it.
According to https://medium.com, horror movies are the most successful as a genre in box offices. A graph created by this website shows that a romantic comedy like Greek Wedding brought in about 70 million dollars in the box-office, however, horror movies such as Saw, Paranormal Activity, Get Out, and Us brought in over 200 million dollars. This shows that horror movies are extremely popular and they generate a lot of money in the movie industry.
That’s it for this month’s edition of Weird Science News! Stay safe, enjoy horror movies, and keep an eye out on the November edition of Weird Science News!