How scary are scary movies, really?

As we enter the last few days of September, Halloween month is just around the corner.

That means pumpkin spice everything, leaves, actual pumpkins and most of all, scary movies. 

For those of us who love scary movies, my question is: do you watch scary movies for the plot, or the thrill of being scared? 

Personally, if I go to a scary movie, I want to be scared, and get mildly disappointed if I walk out of the theater without an ounce of paranoia that a ghost or a demon is going to be in my rear-view mirror when I start my car. 

Perhaps the reason we like scary movies so much is that it’s in a controlled environment, and the flood of endorphins and adrenaline affects us more than the movie itself. “Horror entertainment [can cause] a boost in adrenaline, endorphins and dopamine,” according to a column by Concordia University Saint Paul. 

That fight or flight instinct peaks when the emotional response to the movie bypasses your rational thought that it’s only a movie. The notion that you are in a safe space while also being terrified is, in my opinion, the reason horror fans come back year after year. 

The response which comes into play mainly when visiting haunted attractions, where monsters, ghouls and the like jump out of dark corners that play off the traditional Halloween jump-scares, with the intent of eliciting a scream. It tells our rational mind to take a seat while, for a moment, you forget it is not real. 

So why do some people absolutely hate horror movies? Well it all stems from understanding what fear is. 

“Neurotransmitters and hormones that are released [when scared] are helping us prepare to fight or flee, at the same time our attention is shifting away from abstract thoughts and focusing on issues of survival,” said Margee Kerr, a sociologist and author of “SCREAM: Chilling Adventures in the Science of Fear.”

Basically, that alludes to people responding to fear differently based on how their neurotransmitters fire in response to the bursts of adrenaline and panic-inducing experiences. 

For the sake of Halloween, I cannot wait to experience haunted houses, horror attractions and all the new horror movies that are coming to theaters to get myself into the Halloween spirit. 

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