Why are we so fascinated by horror? I just got finished watching The Crazies (great movie, by the way) and a sudden urge to write about horror movies came upon me.
So: why are we (as a society) fascinated by horror? I mean, we make movies about haunted houses, haunted hospitals, haunted schools, haunted cars, haunted people. We make movies about demons, about ghosts, about vampires (not the sparkly kind), about werewolves (not the shirtless kind). And then we invent our own monsters, our Freddy Kruegers and Jason Vorheeses, which we make iconic. We make ourselves frightened and for what?
One possibility: fear makes us feel alive. Without that rush of adrenaline when the killer comes on the screen, we become bored. But then, action and adventure movies make cause excitement, too, so why horror? Why choose fear?
We're afraid of lots of things in real life. We're afraid of not making enough money, of losing our jobs or homes, of losing touch with our family and friends. We're afraid of things we have no control over, like whether the economy will crash or getting into a car accident or becoming deathly ill. We're afraid of cancer and bugs and the dark and serial killers and germs.
Horror movies (and books and comics) take this fear and give it a face, a form. They say, "Here is what you fear: Jason's mask. Freddy's claws. Look at them." They force us to confront our fears in a form we can become familiar with. Even friendly with. Look, our fears aren't so bad - I mean, that one girl at the end always gets away. Sure, all her friends and family have been slaughtered, but she's still alive. Until the sequel, that is.
Horror, ironically, gives us hope. Hope that we can defeat our fears. That by facing our fears, we can force them away from us. We fear lots of things, but we don't give up. We don't give in to our fears. Our fear of sickness (vampires), our fear of being overwhelmed (zombies), our fear of being ugly or deformed (werewolves), our fear of death (ghosts), all our fears. We are never free of fear, but we can focus that fear and keep it from flooring us. We will fail to flee from our fears, we will face them firsthand.
Sorry, got a bit alliterative there. Well, what do you expect from my name?