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Horror Versus Murder Mysteries: Why Some Prefer One Over the Other



Halloween, naturally, is the day of horror movies and scares galore. 

In fact, most of the month of October is like that. I know that some people, though, will be staying far away from horror movies. I’ve never been able to handle horror movies; I even had nightmares about Muppet Treasure Island in elementary school. I haven’t watched it since. But I, like many others, am a huge fan of murder mysteries. What makes them so different from the horror genre?

It truly depends on the person which one they prefer. For example, my youngest sister loves NCIS, which is essentially realistic, episodic murder mysteries, but at the same time, I had to beg her to let me choose Knives Out for my pick on movie night. (Yes, that’s how it works in my family; I have to convince my sisters of my choice.)

Horror movies tend to have a different execution than murder mysteries. They’re made to scare, and will often rely on jumpscares and gore or psychological elements created to scare the audience. Some people fare better with different elements; some don’t like gore, while others will steer clear from monster movies. Horror movies are good at getting the job done; even some documentaries (specifically about ghosts or events such as the Salem witch trials) are filmed with horror in mind.

While murder mysteries can rely on some of the same elements, they more often rely on character development, plot and twists to capture the audience. Many modern murder mysteries will have an unreliable narrator, such as in Abigail Haas’s Dangerous Girls. Even older novels like Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None are set up to really make the audience think about how the murder could’ve been pulled off. Of course, there will always be the murder mysteries that create a horror-like atmosphere, and sometimes the line between horror and murder mystery blurs incomprehensibly.

Whether or not you like horror or murder mysteries will vary, especially depending on the elements present in each. My advice is to take each horror movie, game, show, haunted hayride, what-have-you, slowly. If you feel like you’re going to be kept up at night by the experience, save yourself a sleepless night (or sleepless nights) and stop watching or reading. It’s better to quit part way through than to know what happens and have interrupted sleep for weeks because of it. 

Trust me on that one. I know from many different experiences.

Most importantly, don’t let anyone call you a wimp or coward for not watching. If horror isn’t your thing, then it isn’t your thing, and they should respect that. But if you do want a relatively low-horror, comedic murder mystery to watch, might I suggest the 1985 movie Clue or Netflix’s Murder Mystery?

Halloween is meant to be a fun time, and that means knowing what you want to watch or read. No pressure!

Nina Fichera

Geneseo '24

Nina Fichera is an avid writer and reader, and can often be found writing somewhere (usually in her room) with her trusty journal. She is working towards an English degree, with the hopes of becoming a Creative Writing professor.
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