Fear is a resonating emotion. We can agree that cinematography has inventive ways of inducing fear whether it be a ghoulish background sound, light refraction methods or visual “scary” monsters, etc. How peculiar of a creature humans are that knowing that their heart rate amongst other bodily functions are affected during fear induced settings yet, horror/gore movies and television are amongst the highest watched entertainment. Shows like Walking Dead, which depicts an apocalyptic earth taken over by zombies and American Horror Story, which a more common idea of what we know as being scary, is based on a mixture of demons, witches, death, spirits and much more, depending on what season of AHS.
When an individual watches horror media, the visual art itself is inducing fear. In the first few seconds of watching American Horror Story (AHS), the visuals and background noises/theme song alone will already increase flight-like behavior in the brain to most. So many types of scary media bombard our societies. Fear is such an ambiguous feeling modern psychology and science try to tackle, but with human emotions, it is a complicated Rubik’s cube of ideas when trying to break down a feeling. These mixed emotions of fear, can be carried into fictional media. [I just want to point out that I’m focusing on scary television like AHS because reality is scary enough and that is a whole other creature in trying to understand and cope with].
What is it about fear that we connect with it? Think about times that you may have watched a scary movie before bed and ended up having nightmares. What connections do our brains have with our emotions and unconscious thoughts? I love watching horror media and sometimes, when it’s an interesting concept, the idea resonates with me for a few days. When I first started watching Walking Dead I was really impressed because it’s not atypical zombie apocalyptic show. To me, WD makes a great build up of characters and shows how society works whether building groups, committing crimes, and most importantly – survival. The way AHS resonates is in a completely different format. WD seems more realistic to me rather AHS seems like monsters that I grew up reading and watching on TV. Both are great cinematography examples in this genre but AHS formulates these superstitious dreams and thoughts about spirits taking over the body, kind of like watching the Exorcism when I was much younger. Although, I am quite aware that most of these ideas are complete fiction, apparently my unconscious thoughts runs wild with dreams of how my close friends and I would solve situations just as those shown in the episodes. Interestingly, knowing that I have a few unsettling thoughts, why do we collectively continue to watch it? Why does horror speak to audience on a completely different level that anything else? We are aware that it increases our senses, you ever watch something scary involving creaking sounds and such and then look around the room more attentively? Why do shows like WD and AHS keep us thinking about the scenarios seen?
Because it’s great entertainment!