Why a horror movie can be like therapy | KUOW News and Information

Why a horror movie can be like therapy

Oct 23, 2017


Jeannie Yandel wanted to know: Why would anyone want to scare themselves by watching horror movies? Isn’t there enough scary stuff in the real world right now?

She got answers from horror fans Amie Simon, the director of marketing at Smart House Creative and writer of the blog, I Love Splatter!, and Melanie McFarland, TV writer for Salon.

“I like to think of it as kind of a therapy,” said Simon. “You’re watching something outrageous, something that could happen to you or something that couldn’t happen to you. You have this roller coaster of emotions, this quickening of the pulse. This is what would I do, fight-or-flight reflex. And at the end of it you’re able to turn off the TV, walk away and it’s done.”

And in a scary world, that can be a therapeutic thing.

“I think it’s a way to explore these fears that we all have without actually putting yourself in real physical danger,” Simon said.

McFarland said horror films and TV shows can teach us a lot about our fears.

“I think they speak to a lot of different things,” she said. “For instance on television right now we have ‘American Horror Story,’ which ultimately, it’s cloaked in this whole idea of politics, but really it’s about fear as a divisionary, a divisive topic.”

McFarland and Simon both started watching horror movies as pre-teens, so there’s a lot of nostalgia about sleepovers with friends.

Simon recalled that her father ran up the stairs with a chainsaw while she was watching “Nightmare on Elm Street” with friends.

And McFarland said her friends were always trying to up the level of scary in sleepover movies.

“It almost became the slumber party competition of, can you top that,” she said.

So, what are their top picks for horror fans right now?

Simon recommends “The Invitation.” “It’s a thriller. It's not straight-up horror. It’s not really gory, but it’s really, really unsettling”

McFarland recommends “Mindhunter” “Very, very creepy, very little blood.”