Do you love a good scare? A horror movie can have both beneficial and hazardous eﬀects on our mental and physical state.
There are four main ways that a horror movie can manipulate your emotions to get you involved in the story.
- Lone protagonist: High empathy is rewarded with a big emotional payoff when the character conquers her fear.
- Complex problem: Though viewers feel high empathy for the victim, there is a sense of helplessness.
- Gore: Low empathy but intense sensation; in men, there can be a strong identification with the killer.
- Thriller: Sensation-seekers gravitate to the suspense, and identification with the victims fosters high empathy.
Experiencing the physical and emotional rush of a horror film can be good for you:
1. Combats stress as adrenaline rushes throughout your body, boosting your energy levels.
2. Strengthens the immune system by winding up your sympathetic nervous system, helping you ward oﬀ anxiety and depression.
3. Provides escapism for a soothing effect.
4. Helps resolve fears and phobias.
5. Activates weight loss by significantly increasing diet-induced thermogenesis – the rise in your energy expenditure above your standard metabolic rate.
6. Raises level of white blood cells, which fight infections.
7. Tackles real-life issues, increasing your readiness for real-life incidents, vigilance and alertness.
8. Has a feel-good factor when the source of the horror is caught or killed at the end, which activates secretion of mood-boosting chemicals like dopamine, glutamate and serotonin.
But under some circumstances, horror films can have lingering negative effects.
Post-traumatic stress disorder.Viewers may struggle to diﬀerentiate between reality and ﬁction.
Sleeplessness.People can develop insomnia and nightmares after seeing graphic content, which can keep pump-up hormones like adrenaline coursing through their body.
Cinematic Neurosis.Some viewers may be susceptible to this trauma if they overidentify with the film’s narrative or cultural factors.