Why do horror movies never go out of style?
Who likes being scared? People would not tell you that they like being scared and surprised.
It’s never out of style
They’re only telling you part of the story. If you ask those same people whether they like seeing other people get the stuffing scared out of them, they probably would chuckle. The red blush would come over them and they would tell you, “Yeah, I kind of like it!”
There is some sort of guilty pleasure in seeing other people scared out of their wits. The same applies to surprises. People hate being surprised because people like predictability. People like to equate some sort of predictability with a certain level of control over their lives. You have to understand that you if you ask the average American or Western European what they fear the most, lack of control is probably is going to be high up on the list. Of course, most people cannot articulate this. Most people would not say it in precisely those terms but that’s what they mean.
If you were to boil down a lot of the common responses to fears, apprehensions, and insecurities that people have, it really all boils down to control. You have to remember that if you can predict what happens in your life and if you can anticipate what is around the corner, you have achieved some level of control. You have taken your life to a whole other level because part of the reason why we’re so stressed, depressed, and anxious is the fact that we don’t know what the future has in store for us.
This has little to do with prediction as it is to do with the sense of being able to do the right things at the right time to produce the right results. In other words, it’s about control. Given this reality, it is easy to understand why horror movies never go out of style. People have their normal mental state which is they’d like to be in control. They’d like to see some level of predictability. They’d like to see order and flow. But let’s face it, it gets old.
Also, it requires challenging because paradoxically enough, when you are reminded that you are not in control, you realize the value of control in the life that you do have. You see how this works? Given this background, it’s no surprise that horror movies will never go out of style because even in the depths of the Cold War when there was supposedly a threat of a nuclear disaster present at every second, people love suspense. You would think that this does not make any sense because after all, people are already scared. They want to really double down by scaring themselves watching horror movies.
This precisely what horror movies play. They shake at our sense of control. They slap it around. They put it through the wringer. But at the end of the day, regardless of what horror movie you watch. Regardless of the decade it come from, it all goes back to a simple contrast. What you just watch involves the worst case scenario people getting killed, people getting hunted down like animals, people getting butchered in the worst way possible.
But after the movie credits roll and the lights of the cinema start up again, you’re back in the real world. This tension is what keeps people drawing back – things aren’t really that bad. As chaotic as your world may be at some level or other, it’s not really all that bad. It could be so much worse. Given this reality, don’t expect horror movies to go out of style anytime soon.