Why People Love Scary Movies

The Exorcist is one infamous horror movie that has garnered millions of fans and birthed numerous sequels. Nearing Halloween, watching horror movies such as The Exorcist is becoming a kind of a tradition for spook lovers around the globe. Still, there are many people who can’t stand scary movies at all. Why is that?

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Why People Love Scary Movies

One theory that may explain this preference is the excitation-transfer theory. To put it shortly, your brain is playing tricks on you as the excitation responses are based on what type of emotions your brain assigns to the stimulus.

In goes like this —  the stimulus from the movie screen when the evils lurking in the dark, trying to hurt the protagonist are translated in your brain as fear, doubt, or anger. Later on, this original stimulus intensifies your emotional response as the protagonist overcome the evils and come out as the victor.

The weird thing is the emotional response at the end is registered as pleasure, which is totally different from how the original stimulus was registered. Once the movie is over, all that’s left is that elated feeling. That’s why it’s common to see people coming out the theaters chatting all so happily about the horror movie the just saw.

So why can’t some people stand scary movies?

The lame answer is because people are wired differently. Some people are highly sensitive so scary movies overstimulate them.

Directors deliberately created the scenes in scary movies to give the most impact in its limited runtime. From jump scares to spooky sound effects, all of them are used without reserves. All these stimuli boost adrenaline production in the body. For sensitive people, this adrenaline boost results in a negative experience.

How can I watch horror movies without being scared?

This is a tough one. Well, not really. You can always cheat by reading the reviews and spoilers prior to watching the horror movie. If it’s an old movie, you can probably find “The making of [horror movie title]” somewhere on the net. Watch it so your subconscious notices all the fake things while you’re watching the movie.

You can also gradually build immunity to scary movies by exposing yourself to scary stuff like listening to spooky ambient sounds. Try playing those sounds using headphones in the comfort of your home, preferably not alone and certainly not with all the lights out.  That might be too intense.


Although horror movies are a staple of Halloween season, you don’t need to force yourself to watch them nor you should force others to watch horror films with you. Just accept that people have different thresholds when dealing with a barrage of stimuli. Some crave horror movies while others despise them. If you feel the need to desensitize yourself toward scary stuff, you can try the suggestion above. But don’t push yourself too hard, OK?!

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