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Scary movies: Society’s great catharsis

HenaginOpinionFor anyone who does not know me, horror flicks are not “my thing,” for lack of a better term. To clarify, scary movies put me in a stupor that causes nightmares and night-light usage. Recently scary movies have become really popular. I have a roommate who just loves them, and one of my best friends giggles uncontrollably at the “Saw” series. I on the other hand have a sweatshirt pulled over one eye and am facing the wall most of the time.

The fact people like them so much just blows my mind. My sister just cannot get enough, whereas I had to stop watching “Criminal Minds” because I was having nightmares. Same thing with “NCIS,” “CSI,” and “Law & Order.” I get concerned that people are finding a strange joy in watching people get murdered.

Not only are nightmares a problem for me, but so is the content of these films. The concepts of some are absolutely terrifying. “Saw”? A scary man decides who gets to live or die in a strange game version of the God complex. “The Hills Have Eyes”? Strange, deformed beings lure people to do indeterminate things. “Silent Hill”? Still confused, but mostly terrified of the nurse things.

Horror films make their money on adrenaline, on kids getting jacked to go to the movies. Kids and adults alike are proving them right, that they like to be scared, that they are junkies of a natural high. People have explained to me it is the lingering fear they love; being home alone and hearing funny noises makes them relive that scary experience.

So thinking about all of this, I think about the concept of “catharsis,” which is a Greek term meaning to cleanse or purge. People always say they love sad movies because they are cathartic, releasing their sad feelings. So if sad movies provide a catharsis from sadness, what do horror movies provide a catharsis from? In my mind it makes sense that it provides a catharsis, because somehow as a human race we relate everything back to ourselves — selfish little lot we are.

So what kind of catharsis are we looking at here? A catharsis from fear? A catharsis from anger or craziness if we are looking at it from the antagonist’s prospective, which is more disturbing. I think there are levels to horror films I will never see because I cannot sit through them, but I hope you enjoy whatever they provide you. Also, I hear there is a campus showing of “The Conjuring” sometime soon.

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