What Impact Can Horror Movies Have on You?

Halloween is coming up!! I’ve always loved it because of all the treats, the fancy dress themed parties and all pumpkin style candles. But… I will try and avoid too many sweets this year (losing weight, remember) and I have no intention to dress up to go to a Halloween party either (thanks to COVID-related restrictions, etc) so all I have left is carving my own pumpkin and watching horror movies on TV.

I love horror movies, always have, even if most of them are really bad and the end always very predictable… Some people don’t enjoy horror movies though, it’s either you love it or you hate it. For those of us who love them, is it because we take it with sarcasm (“haha it’s not real, it’s just tomato sauce, not real blood”), because we like being scared (just for fun) or because of the adrenaline it generates? I did notice it affects the way I think sometimes, there is a fine line between “imagination” and “paranoia” or “anxiety”. So my question is: Do horror movies affect our mental health?

It could be a traumatic experience

I remember I was 17 when I went to see Halloween H20: 20 Years Later at the cinema with a couple of friends. For several days I was scared of my bathroom mirror, just in case someone suddenly appeared behind me. I’ve seen many horror movies but this one left its mark on me, probably because of the story line and the fact that the killer is a close relative to the main character (Jamie Lee Curtis). 10 years later, it’s the movie Mirrors who made me jump at the cinema. I found it hard to watch because of all the suspense that made the experience almost real. After this, I think I’ve only watched horror movies at home.

Horror movies can create or worsen anxiety

I find horror movies very similar to theme parks, where you can feel terrified but know you’re safe at the same time (even though I don’t enjoy rollercoasters as much as I used to when I was younger). I wouldn’t recommend horror movies if you’re already struggling to fall asleep, as it could keep you awake at night. Lack of sleep or poor quality sleep are directly linked to mood swings and the ability to process emotions… Which can lead to mental health issues. I doubt this could be good for people already suffering from anxiety either. Anxiety is caused by unwanted fears and intrusive thoughts, so best to stay away from this type of “entertainment”. Unless you want to face your fears and use the opportunity to endure unpleasant distress without it being dangerous… Sounds a bit extreme though.

But they can still be enjoyable

I think it’s worth saying all horror movies are not the same. Some are just gore and graphic, not so scary but there is blood literally everywhere. Some don’t necessarily involve a lot of dead bodies but play with your mind. The music plays a bit part in it too, I’ve seen my sister covering her ears but keep watching for example. It made me laugh at first but it makes complete sense when you think about it. The most enjoyable part for me is probably to buddy up with someone who also loves this movie genre and laugh about it. I wouldn’t watch them on my own, except maybe the Saw Saga that is one of my favourites. Set your own boundaries! Getting in the Halloween spirit is fun, but taking care of your mental health is far more important.

Do you like horror movies? If yes, what are your favourite ones?

Big Girl x

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