Horror movies have become one of the main intricacies of celebrating Halloween. People around the country watch as violent madmen slaughter blonde cheerleaders and the middle-class dream of suburbia ends in ruins. There’s a fascination with the kind of terror brought by horror movies — being unable to close your eyes as disaster struck even the most unlikely of people.
But what was it about these movies that kept people from tearing away their eyes? In 2019, the horror movie industry made a gross of $809 million on only 40 movie releases. The number had shown a large decrease since 2017 when it grossed at over one billion in revenue. Still, the market for gut-wrenching movies only seems to grow as the genre expands from psychological thrillers to slashers.
There’s nothing special about serial killers with sharp knives or apparitions that refuse to leave your home. You’ve heard this story before, and you’ll hear it hundred times over. You watch as the characters go through the motions every time: they follow the noise they heard in the middle of the night, they go into the wrong room, or they trust a sinister strange man they shouldn’t. They make all the wrong decisions and all the mistakes that would ultimately lead them to their death.
But the fascination with horror movies doesn’t come from the horrors themselves. The beauty of horror movies has nothing to do with the horrors at all. Death, betrayal, violence — they’re all elements that exist in everyday life. It was never about the antagonist. It was about the victims — the heroes of our stories fighting for their lives and fighting for a will to live.
Horror movies then essentially become about survival. How much were you willing to lose? How far were you willing to go to save your own skin? Can you be quick enough to outsmart a longstanding legend that torments a town yearly? Or will you just be another victim in a list of tragedies?
Whether it be the cheerleaders, the nerds, the divorcees, or the losers, the heroes of horror all have one thing in common: they all have this unbelievable will to live. Even when their death seemed inevitable, even when it became obvious they wouldn’t stand a chance, they took the horrors straight with a fighting chance. There was something to learn not about the perils of life but the beauty of living.
The reality is that without our heroes in the horror genre, there wouldn’t be a story at all. It would just be people committing atrocities and other people paying the price. It wouldn’t be a horror genre at all, but just the news.