Why do People Watch Horror Movies – The Science Behind Fear

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Horror is a genre that not everyone likes. People always ask me why I like to watch horror movies and I always say the same thing. I love them. Much like some people want to watch romantic comedies and others love to get their hands on drama, some prefer getting their wits scared and the hairs on their skin tingle. But why do people love watching horror movies? It is not like horror fanatics aspires to be afraid and feel frightened because of some ghosts, demon, or gruesome killer. Or do we, unconsciously want to?

Let’s Define Horror First

A horror film, according to Britannica.com, is a calculated motion picture that aims to provide or cause intense fear, repugnance, or dread. In itself, it encompasses every sub-genre that a horror film has. First, it causes fear. You fear unnatural events caused by aliens, ghosts, zombies, or even the dead. Some just become afraid of everything that cannot be explained by logic. We tend to stay away from things that are unseen and unheard of. People generally like films that satisfy common sense. If there is a thing that you cannot describe and expound on, some people choose to go the other way.

A movie that has scenes that make you feel repugnance or disgusting, this is also a horror flick. Films like the Saw series and Hostel belong to the category of horror films because they make the audience cringe and shout. It is the gore, the blood, and the lots of killing that make people close their eyes and not watch what is in front of them in the camera.  If you do not like these kinds of movies, then you can say to yourself that you do not like horror movies.

But horror movies are created to be this way- causing disgust, fear, and possibly trembling. And some people genuinely pay big money to watch these movies. Why?

Some People are Genuinely Excited about These Kinds of Films

Some people close their eyes while watching The Ring movies or the Nightmare on Elm Street sequels. But others come closer to the screen to understand every detail of the movies. This is because these people are genuinely excited to see these movies. They do not feel anxiety or stress while watching horror movies. Instead, they feel really excited about them. Picture this for a second. Why do some people want to watch the latest super hero flick? Because they are so pumped up that the story that they are interested in is coming in the theaters. This is the same for horror movie buffs. They are so excited about the movies that they cannot contain themselves. They just have to buy tickets and watch them on the big screen. Some even go to the first screenings to watch these horror movies before anyone else.

It Feels Euphoric When Watching Horror Films

People get high on different things. Some get high on clothes. Some get high on their collection of shoes, watches, or toys. Others choose horror movies. Some people who are into horror films feel a kind of jest and euphoric excitement that no other movie can ever get them. The horror movies, instead of scaring them, give them a sense of elation and ecstasy that they go over every horror film to feel the same thing over and over again. It is most probably the story that gets them going. This is especially true of a horror movie was adapted from a book, magazine, or comic book. Some would line up just to buy the best seats in the house.

It can Release Chemicals that Make You Feel Good

It is not that some people do not get scared. Most people I know do. And when they watch horror flicks, they still get spine-chilling results. It is because some moviegoers just aspire to scare themselves and blow their minds out. Psychologists say that watching scary movies can definitely frighten you and keep you up at night. But the same films that bring terrifying scenes are also the ones that stick out of the head. It is much like an emotion that never gets stimulated because of what is in front of you. Horror fans like to get scared because they like the feelings that come with it.

In a similar article, Healthline.com published an article about why we like being scared. One way to get scared is by watching movies. When some people watch horror films, the body may release chemicals that actually make you feel good. Have you met someone who laughs when getting nervous? It is not a fake laugh. His body is telling him to laugh at the circumstance.

The reason behind this event is your sympathetic nervous system. Scientific studies say that the more active your sympathetic nervous response is, the more you desire being scared. The body measures and analyzes how much of the dopamine is released in your body and how much it will actually absorb and use. This is where you become thrilled and happy upon being scared.

Another factor that can affect people on how they view horror movies is the size of their brain’s frontal lobe. It dictates how you will react to situations. Many are aware of the flight or fight response. It is the way our body responds to scary situations. This tells their instincts whether to stand their ground or fight or get away from the place or flight. The size of the frontal lobe rationalizes the situation and responds accordingly to the environment. It tells your brain that it is just a movie and the natural response to entertainment is to see it as pleasurable.


Everyone has his own liking for different genres of movies. Science explains why these people genuinely love watching horror movies. And it becomes clearer now why they behave the way that they do. The next time that you see them wanting to watch the next upcoming horror flick, you will have a better understanding about why they crave it.

Written by
Ash Hamilton is not only the owner of Horror-Fix.com, but also one of its major contributors. A long time horror movie enthusiast, Ash has lent his personality to radio and television and continues to support his favorite genre through his writing and art. He also loves beef jerky and puppies... and low-grade street-quality hallucinogens.

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