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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Theory #41: Horror movies

Carl loves horror movies. I don't. It's one of the few things where our tastes differ, so we tend to talk it to death.

After watching and discussing 1408, I think we've come up with a workable theory. Carl's emotionally focused while I'm logical (if you're into Myers-Briggs, he's an ISFP and I'm an INTP).

For us, at least, it's not quite as simple as me not liking to be scared, or not liking violence. I love suspense movies and violent action movies, so that's not it.

He enjoys the emotional rollercoaster, and... (and here's where I was having trouble understanding)... for him, it's an end in itself.

I don't mind the emotional rollercoaster, but I need a payoff at the end. I need to know why and how.

Granted, I have watched very few horror movies, so maybe my sample is skewed, but the ones I have seen have tended to be light on the motivation and resolution. The villains tend to be evil just because they're evil, or their motives are flimsy. The heroes escape (if they do escape) , but not because they've solved the problem--the villain's always still there for the sequel.

For Carl and me, the difference seems to lie in emotional vs. logical, but I suspect that's not the whole story.

This is obviously very simplistic, and I've no doubt that there are plenty of exceptions--like I said, I've seen very few horror movies. But here's a question: if you do like horror movies, what do you find appealing about them? And if you don't, why not?

...wonder if someone's done a study on this?



I talked about my love/hate fascination with horror movies here in a review for The Descent. If it's impossible, like zombies and creatures, then I'm totally there and having a great time. if it's possible, however, like slasher flicks and torture porn, then I cannot watch. It's just too close to stuff you hear on the news.
Interesting! I don't think too much about horror movies, although I do get what you mean. To me, it's all about entertainment and enjoying the emotional rollercoaster, hehe.
Carrie, I'm kind of like that--if it's impossible, it doesn't scare me, but I still don't really like the movies that much. I remember watching John Carpenter's The Thing with Carl when we were dating and laughing at the monster. It didn't scare me because it seemed so unrealistic. The slasher movies scare me.

But there are creature movies I like (vampires and werewolves are always fun), and I'll put up with scary realistic violence if there's a good plot and characterization attached (like in Eastern Promises), so I'm thinking it's something about the genre itself.

Next question, I guess, is what's the definition of a horror movie?
I'd think horror has to do with where the only thing the protagonists are doing is surviving against a violent enemy, whether supernatural or human. There's no government plot or evil corporation like in a thriller--not directly anyway. The corporation may be in charge of having created the baddies, like in Aliens, but Ripley wasn't overcoming guys in suits. She was fighting aliens. There can be a little crossover like Pitch Black, which I would consider more a sci-fi because so much time was spent on the worldbuilding, but it was also quite a nasty creature flick. Anyway...just my thoughts.
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