For some people, scary and horror films hold a hypnotic fascination and there is nothing they love more than plunging into a world of terror, sinking comfortably into their couch and forgetting about the world while their pulse races, their heart races, and they jump on the couch next to a tasty bowl of popcorn.
Others, on the other hand, choose to banish them because their sensitivity makes their natural fears soar. But why do so many of us love a good scare?
What attracts us to horror films?
Why are we attracted to and entertained by these films when our natural tendency is rather to seek pleasure, and avoid uncomfortable, unpleasant and scary sensations?
In order for a horror film to be effective, the masters of cinema know that they have to mix three components.
Tension: Provide a sense of suspense or mystery, terror, shock or fear.
Relevance: Create a personal or cultural connection, tap into an inherent fear such as death.
Unrealism: Have a distinct element that separates the viewer from what they are seeing and from reality, allowing them to distance themselves from the events seen.
Adverse emotions that generate pleasure
In general, there were two dominant theories that explained why we like these films so much.
The first argues that people like these films so much because they are not genuinely frightened but excited by the film. Sure, very believable!
The second says that people are willing to endure the terror in order to experience a euphoric sense of relief at the end. These people love to feel frightened and when the threat disappears, they feel huge sense of relief. For them 'the most pleasant moments of an event can also be the most frightening.' It seems as though they experience positive feelings while still experiencing terror.