The Art of Fear

Some people have a fascination with the gore and ghosts of horror films, others can’t stay far enough away.

Sit back, but don’t relax.Some students hate being scared and are frightened by realistic special effects in horror films. Others love the genre, viewing the special effects as hoaxes or enjoying the films because they can distance themselves from their fears. People look for an emotional release when they watch a movie, but for some, the fear is just too realistic, said David Kost, film professor.Paranormal Activity 2″ hit movie theaters last Friday. The first “Paranormal Activity” grossed more than $100 million, and the “Saw” series made more than $700 million worldwide. But the lure of the horror genre is widely disagreed upon.”When I watch a scary movie, I have to keep reminding myself it’s not real,” said senior screen acting major Lexi Sakowitz, who despises horror films.Sakowitz appreciates scary movies because of the effect they have on her ” she admits she couldn’t fall asleep after seeing “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” ” but would rather spend her time and money seeing films from other genres.Her least favorite type of scary movie isn’t a tale of demons and ghosts.”When I lived at home with my mom, she would always keep the news on, and there would be really terrifying stories of killers or stalkers,” she said. “That stuck with me for some reason.”People who have intense fears should not watch films directly related to those fears because they may cause an uncomfortable emotional release, Kost said.”The experience of going to see a horror movie and being scared by it allows us to release some of the fear that we hold in ourselves,” Kost said. “Our fears are very real. We have some that are actually pretty painful to think about. Movies are safer because there’s a distance because of how fantastic they are.”This theory is called catharsis and it states that audience members purge emotion, creating a rejuvenating effect. A film about grief, for example, allows viewers to cry for the characters, which releases emotions without directly confronting them, Kost said.Peter Gould, a junior film production major, has a different mindset. He’s been watching horror films since he was 7 years old when his dad brought home “Poltergeist” (1982), which tells the story of a demonic presence that haunts a family.Although Gould has never been too terrified by the genre, he admits that his lack of fear could be because of his major and how he notices the nuances of filmmaking.”I used to watch ‘The Twilight Zone,’ which was really scary,” he said. “But now, I really don’t get scared because I’m looking at everything else besides the story.”Gould’s favorite types of horror movies are suspenseful because everything else seems fake to him. He says “The Shining” (1980) is eerie, and that is why it is one of his favorite horror films.Horror films are more enjoyable because they are enthralling while chick flicks are predictable, said Jillian Britz, sophomore digital arts major. However, she finds a majority of gory movies funny because of their obvious attempts to scare audience members.Britz’s boyfriend, Brendan Nahmias, junior television broadcast journalism major, doesn’t find horror movies as amusing.”It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that if I want to get a thrill from something, I’m not going to waste time to pee my pants,” he said. “I’d rather go to Disneyland and ride Space Mountain. It’s a mild thrill and doesn’t take 80 minutes of my life away.”He would rather spend a night apart from his girlfriend than sit down and watch a scary movie with her, Nahmias said. He once walked out of a class when the teacher put on a screening of “Paranormal Activity.”Some argue it is possible to enjoy watching a scary movie and also be scared by it. Nahmias thinks so, but he just isn’t one of those people.It’s common for individuals to push the envelope and see how much fear they can tolerate, according to an article on WebMD. Ultimately, the viewers feel a sense of satisfaction when they are able to endure the feeling of anxiety.The article explains that those who enjoy the genre tend to be interested in the absurdity because it differs from their typical daily routines.Next time you’re looking for something exciting on a monotonous day ” go see a horror flick.

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