[Made rebloggable by request]
This is a very intelligent and philosophical question. I’d love to hear the responses from my followers as well because I think it differs for us all.
I always say what scares us is personal. It’s why it’s SO HARD for me to recommend movies that will actually scare someone else. I can find movies you’ll enjoy. But scare you? It’s almost impossible.
So, why do I love horror movies? Because I am scared of dying. I have always, always, always, always been afraid of dying - for as long as I can remember. I read Tuck Everlasting in 1st grade. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s a book about a girl who finds a family of immortal people living in the woods who drink from this spring and live forever. They basically hate being immortal and are kinda over living. The girl has to make a choice between being immortal and dying a natural life - she choses a natural life.
If you know anything about developmental psychology, you know that little kids don’t really understand death. But this book is a pretty intense (for a little kid) look at not only death but the ramifications of living - that growing old is a long, painful process that you cannot avoid. That we all die - every one of us. To realize that so young fucked me up for life.
My Dad has actually brought it up in a way that I thought was really insightful. He said that I have always been scared of things - monsters, the dark, spiders, dying. I was a really morbid little kid. But, unlike other kids who would run away from the things that they feared, I was driven to seek these things out. I threw myself into the morbid and the macabre - into all the things that terrified me - and I never walked away from it. He never understood why. I don’t either, to be honest. It’s just who I am.
Apparently, when I was a little kid, I used to cry in absolute terror about this one room in our basement. Someone had written “powder room” in the paint of the door when it was wet so it had these ghostly letters that you could see when the light was right. My house was built in the 1700s so who knows when that happened. It certainly wasn’t done by my family. But this room was the one bit of basement that wasn’t finished. It had dirt floors, rock walls, and this little crawlspace where a small child could crawl under the foundation of the house - which I always refused to do because there was something in there. I remember being fucking terrified of that room. But according to my Dad, he would always find me in the basement crying. When he’d ask me why, I’d tell him because there was a ghost in the powder room and it scared me. I never had a reason beyond that. I wasn’t cognizant enough to say that I wanted to confront it - I don’t even think I wanted to confront it. I just… had to go in there but I was too scared to do it.
I was SCARED of my house as a little kid. I remember being too scared to go into the bathroom at the end of the hall so I’d pee on my carpet. (An embarrasing childhood memory but true.) That’s a level of terror that is pretty intense. There were only a few “safe” places in my house and I would run from one to the other if I had to. Because weird shit happened in the places that weren’t safe. Books flew off shelves, I’d walk through a room and come out of it with scratches that I didn’t have when I went in… I mean, that house was fucking terrifying. And we lived in it until I was 21!!!
Creepy shit is a part of who I am. And it scares the piss out of me, it really does. Even the cheesiest horror movie can usually make me hide my face and scream. My friends hate to go to horror movies with me. It’s part of the reason that I haven’t seen the Purge or Lords of Salem yet. My friends hate dealing with me freaking out and bruising their arms every time something remotely scary happens. Getting other people to go see a horror movie with me is a big deal.
So, that’s why I watch horror movies. It’s a natural extension of this weird compulsion I have to seek out things that terrify me. I actually don’t really enjoy the sensation of being scared - all that adrenaline makes me nauseous. And I’m always afraid that seeing something will stay with me - or, worse, it will summon something. I still see and experience weird shit all the time and I fucking hate it. But… for whatever reason… I seek it out. I just… have to. I don’t know why. But I’m super attracted to the dark and the spooky and the grim. I don’t necessarily enjoy it but I am compelled to surround myself with it. It’s not a “challenge” mentality at all. I’m not trying to “conquer” anything. It’s sort of curiosity - I do want to know if this shit is real. But, mostly, it’s an attraction or a compulsion. I just have to be around these things.
So, that’s why I watch horror movies. Because I’m absolutely fucking terrified of them.