Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home

Horror movies are good for you

Story: Neshmeen Faatimah
Art: Fahim Anzoom

I have quite a reputation here at RS for being the-girl-who-liked-The-Human-Centipede, taunted and sneered at through the ages for my strange obsession with horror movies. I have now set out to prove that liking the sight of blood, sweat and fear does not make me a strange individual, but a smart one.

The adrenaline rush
When you see a frightening movie scene, your brain reacts by putting itself in that position. The images and sounds signal the release of fight-or-flight hormones, adrenaline and cortisol. Your whole body gets alerted - your heart starts beating faster, your muscles tense, and your senses sharpen to focus on preparing itself for an immediate response to danger. This literally makes you feel more alive. But since deep down, the brain knows it's all imaginary, you can experience the “high” of the adrenaline without putting yourself in real danger, explains David Rudd, a clinical psychologist from Texas Tech University. This explains why some people enjoy extreme sports like skydiving and bungee jumping. This writer assumes that it would be normal for people to therefore pick horror movies over extreme sports since those actually pose some physical risk, like you know, death, but she could be wrong.

Cognitive therapy and Stress-resistance
If exposed repeatedly to a fearsome stimulus, the brain starts getting used to it and no longer finds it frightening. Cognitive therapies used for curing anxiety dysfunctions such as phobias and post-traumatic stress disorders are based on this phenomenon. Many horror movies are used to aid such therapies. You'll thank me one day when you finally overcome your fear of axe-wielding murderers because of my advice.

Symbolic Catharsis
This is the phenomenon by which aggressive feelings, motives, and impulses are supposedly “drained off” and “vented” through exposure to aggression carried out by others. Horror novelist Stephen King states that horror movies or books act as a sort of safety valve for our cruel or aggressive impulses. This symbolic catharsis of watching violence forestalls the need to act it out. Yes, horror movies make the world a safer place.

It's good for women
Research suggests that when women watch horror movies, the brain secretes neurotransmitters dopamine, glutamate and serotonin. There is greater brain activity, followed by a stimulation of the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and opiates which have an aesthetic effect. After watching the movie for a while, the system calms down while the defence system remains powerful. The immune system in the body then becomes stronger for a while. See, this is why at least one girl survives in every movie. Supposedly.

This is the mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together. Research shows that sharing the experience of watching horror movies with a group reduces anxiety and fear, at the same time building or strengthening the camaraderie between the members of the group. As an added bonus, a study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found a link between anxiety-provoking situations and increased attraction and arousal. So freaking out with your date might actually get you two more attracted to each other! And also, which sane guy turns down an opportunity to show off his bravado to scared vulnerable girls?

In conclusion, I have some sanity yet left in me.

This entry was very weird and innovative in its interpretation. For next week we have 'The Dish and the Spoon'. All submissions need to be sent in to ds.risingstars@gmail.com by Sunday noon. Word limit: 350-500 words. Good luck.

The Humba Journal

By Nabil Rahman

(Translated for simplification and legibility.)
10:19 am
The thing doesn't move. Much.
We poked.
We got nothing more than a nonchalant gaze.
(Spltkqrux is usually lenient. But even he yelled at me when I went for a second poke. "Everyone gets only one poke per hour," he said. Something must be wrong. He wasn't that fussy about the other specimens.)

10:59 am
The creature stares blankly at the solenoid. I sneak up to it and take the solenoid closer.
The thing seems unaffected by its magnetic field.
This does not make any sense. Is the creature wearing some sort of suit like me? But it seems bare bodied. Question is, is it? Wish I had run this test on those other creatures too.

2:37 pm
The creature has been chewing something continuously. But it hasn't been fed anything since it was taken aboard on the ship.
Those shallow, big black eyes... Is it planning something vicious?

2:38 pm
Spltkqrux suddenly declares that this creature is like none other. According to his claims, this being is a prime example of the most intelligent creatures living on that planet and can bring us a breakthrough in our attempt to communicate with its kind.
When asked to explain, he remains silent. Fool. But I hope he is right.

3:01 pm
(noted in a hurry)
It happened! The creature has responded to wgeatrtt's (sic) poke. Unbelievable! Him? Of all? He is an imbecile! The creature... the creature has blessed him with a swift and sudden blow of its leg to his face.
The universe is unjust.
I don't understand why Wgeatrtt is writhing around on the floor though. But then again, nothing more is to be expected from this one.

3:09 pm
Wgeatrtt was chosen to poke again. Unacceptable! Just cause the creature responded to his poke?

3:10 pm
(some parts could not be understood as the entry was written in a great hurry)
Wgeatrtt pokes and... HUMBA!! Holy ioiobuba! What's that? The creature is producing such a terrible sound.
Too loud... headache... vision...
Cancellation of project earth...
Home... away from harmful noise.
...dropping it back.


home | The Daily Star Home

2012 The Daily Star