On Horror

As far as the topic of horror goes, I think the analyses we read [by Noël Carroll and Berys Gaut] go too far in assuming that because horror inspires negative emotions like fear and disgust, and yet is sought out by people anyways, that some key element of it must block or transmute those emotions in a way that allows for enjoyment. Personally, though, I have a pretty low tolerance for even the milder horror films, and I’m pretty sure I dislike the feelings I experience during (and after) viewing them. However, I also am extremely interested by them, and love reading plot synopses or watching “Top 100 Scariest” countdown shows–I’ve never seen even a minute of The Shining, but I’m familiar with almost every scene. I think it might be more of a moth-to-flame issue, in that the negative emotions associated with horror are essentially unchanged when it crops up in film or other media, but are key to fueling a particularly strong overriding attraction. I think that when a horror film inspires fear, it dimly puts the safety of our own person into question (through the crucial veneer of knowing that no actual threat is present), which in turn gives us a strong personal stake in getting to the bottom of what in a detective genre would be the mystery. Thus normal curiosity and interest go into overdrive, to the point of overcoming the repellence of fear and disgust. There are many categories of horror fans, though, and this explanation only seems to apply to some.

-Dillon Styke


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