UNITED STATES—As a fan of horror, I have been asked countless times about my enjoyment of the genre. It sometimes annoys me, but at the same time I think it is a great question to enlighten people about the genre that so many consider drenched with violence, blood and gore. And to a large degree that is true, but at the same time there are various roots to horror that does not always rely on those themes.
For example, I am really not a fan of the slasher genre, never have been and never will be. I just don’t like excessive amounts of blood and violence, and the idea of knowing who is going to survive as soon as the movie starts. In addition, that is a subgenre that relied so heavily on the intricate kills that no narrative was existent in most flicks from the 80s and early 90s. Yes, there is a slight exception to several flicks in my opinion, the “Halloween,” “Friday the 13th” and “A Nightmare on Elm Street” franchises. Why? Those are flicks that I grew up with as a kid.
However, at its core, horror delivers a level of adrenaline for a viewer in my opinion. You get a high out of watching a horror film, especially one that is well-crafted. When I think of horror, I think of something that leaves you unnerved, on edge and scared to a degree. It’s like placing yourself in such a situation and thinking of various ways that you would outwit the antagonist to ensure your survival.
A true horror film aims to get the viewer to think; it’s not just about pure entertainment in my opinion. Many of us utilize horror as a cathartic release of our fears and things that make us afraid to go into a dark basement, a dark attic or a dark house at night. I’ve always been a fan of the haunted house genre because I’m a firm believer that you can never truly know what transpired in the home you currently live in. Just because there is no history of anything supernatural or something crazy transpiring doesn’t mean it never happened. If done right, a good haunted house movie will leave one so on edge about their home; some regions will forever stay off limits.
I tell people if there is one genre of film that needs to be watched with an audience its horror. The dark theater, the sound of complete silence, the titillating suspense can all lead to a reaction that you would never get if you were to watch the film alone or in your home theater with all the lights off. Horror brings a certain level of ambiance that is not easy to capture with other genres.
I’ve noticed in recent years that children have this inexplicable fixation with wanting to watch horror because it’s something they are forbid from watching. Parents want to shield the children from the violence, nudity, gore and the idea of the boogeyman. Yes, this is even true for me, I was always curious about horror films because I was forbidden from watching them as a kid, and the one time you sneak off to watch something you’re not it scares you absolutely senseless. So much to the point that you never want to watch that film or hear about it ever again.
I do indeed believe it’s a genre kids should not be exposed to at an early age just because the psyche is not fully developed to grasp what is transpiring as being fantasy and not a depiction of reality. Some would like to believe fantasy is much worse than reality, but truth be told that is NOT the case. Horror films allow us an escape from reality and places us in the shoes of the protagonist, allowing us to scream, yell, shout and unleash any built up stressors that we might have without ever getting hurt. In all honesty, it’s all that adrenaline we have inside that we allow to be unleashed.