Zombies, Ghosts, Chainsaws and Blood, lots and lots of blood; these are just a few sights you might encounter as Halloween draws near. Although the things of Halloween or even horror movies seem harmless, I believe that there is much more to them than just fun and games. Let’s be blunt here and state one bias I might have. I am a Christian and my faith guides me away from these things, but I want to talk about this issue for reasons outside of my faith. Despite my stance on horror which was partially formed because of my faith, not every Christian agrees. Many of my friends do participate and celebrate Halloween. They have no problem with horror movies or books. Their claim is that these things are harmless and do not affect their lives. They explain that being scared is part of the fun as it gives them a rush of adrenaline. However, I would like to explain my side of things.
I do not believe that horror is something to be taken lightly. Although one may claim being exposed to these sights has no effect, I would beg to differ. How many of us are plagued by nightmares after watching horror movies? If you are lucky and do not experience nightmares after exposing yourself to the horror genre, does the knowledge actually leave you? Horror makes us scared because it is rooted in reality. Perhaps not everything you see in horror is real, but violence, death, and crime are all very tangible events in the real world. I don’t know about you, but if I watch CSI or Bones it is so easy to worry about crime in your own life.
Our minds are very good at remembering, even if we feel as though we have forgotten. We can remember memories, but we can also remember emotions or feelings. Sometimes our brain can remember an emotion or feeling without remembering the circumstances in which the initial emotion came about. For example, you could feel fearful when it rains super hard and not remember that day when you were hurt badly by someone while it was pouring rain. This all has to do where memory is stored in the brain and how your brain systems interact with information from the outside world. Watching or reading horror makes our brains activate our fight or flight systems, which is why you might get a rush of adrenaline when you experience them. However, my worry is that horror desensitizes us to the actual horrors in our world. People should not take enjoyment in watching other people be murdered or hurt. We ought to care about the people who suffer. I often think about it in this way: Imagine you were in their shoes. Would you want someone to care and help you if you were being attacked or in danger? I think all of us can safely say we would.
Another feeling I have towards horror is not rooted in science, but I think worth mentioning. Why is it necessary? I personally feel like there are so many better ways to have enjoyment than to experience horror. If it is the suspense you like, mysteries can often offer suspense without the horror. Does experiencing horror add anything positive to your life? I cannot say that watching Pet Cemetery, Nightmare on Elm Street, Silence of the Lambs, or the Blair Witch Project has enhanced my life any. Yes, I have watched all of these movies and more. However, I reject ever seeing them. Things stick with you, especially if you experience them as kids. Children remember even if they do not appear to. How many of us remember TV shows we watched as kids and can remember every word to the opening song? Or what about jingles for big companies? Catchy songs? Things really do stay with you and they can affect you more than you know.
Personally, I want as much positivity and light in my life as possible. The world is dark enough without adding unnecessary evils to it. I think that horror can only lead us to negative feelings and health. I believe this for the reasons listed above and for reasons rooted in my faith. However, it is important to note this blog post is not extensive as one could write a book on the issue. I am certain many people will disagree with me and that is okay. Thank you for reading and I hope that my thoughts have given you something to mull over even if you do disagree.
I have added some links to acknowledge and point towards the science backing my thoughts. Hopefully, they will be helpful to you. However, please keep in mind that these are just the basic ideas and not all the research compiled on these topics.