Horror movie industry is an actual and essential problem in the social life of the public. There is an ambiguous opinion on this matter. Is it possible to consider it as a positive factor or negative? How does the virtual violence influence a viewer? This paper will analyze the impact of horror movies on adults and interpret the abovementioned questions. People who discuss this problem are divided into two groups. The first one believes that watching horror movies affects people negatively and it should be forbidden. Others have the opposite opinion. They consider bloody movie is a safe alternative to real violence that causes beneficial effect. There is also the third category of people, but they do not argue about anything. They enjoy watching horror movies.
Harmful Influence of Horror Films
Nevertheless, there are more opponents of horror films among the psychologists. They call horror movies the most harmful invention of mankind and recommend not to watch at all or at least to refrain from daily watching. Scientists consider these films inspire people that cruelty and violence are routine norms, and people can become more aggressive because of them. Besides, some “masterpieces” can cause people to feel afraid, anxious, or nervous. As a result of the research, which has been carried out by the University of Michigan, it becomes clear that more than 90 % of the students of these institutions in the childhood were strongly frightened of any film (DeGoat). Even after the lapse of time, they are afraid to bathe in the sea because of sharks (the film “Jaws”) and cannot take a shower because they can be killed at this time (the film “Psycho”). Obviously, that reason prompted the ministry of culture of France to forbid displaying the film “Saw-3” on the state television.
The heads torn off the body, eyes beaten out from shell burst, and many other things can be seen by the viewers again and again while watching one of such movies. All the images have been issued and painted very well according to the latest art level. All these images look colorful and realistic. This saturated visual information with prevailing red color is perceived by the viewer’s brain while watching. This information does not “depart from the head farther”. It remains in the brain and accumulates there. Why does it remain in the head? Because the human brain remembers everything what is the brightest and most extraordinary. Deaths and murders, especially occurred through a partition, body breakdown, rupture of a body, etc., are impossible to call ordinary events in any way.
The trouble is that a person cannot order anything to his/her consciousness; here he/she is powerless. A person does not notice what is happening inside him/her exactly not through a prism of consciousness, but objectively. This is intentionally exaggerated explanation of the influence horror movies have on people. In a word, horror films do not pass without a trace. They give emotions, experience, feelings to the viewers.
Adrenaline, fear, imagination, shock, blood are the main components of horror films. For some people, it is a way “to tickle nerves”. Somebody treats horror films as a way to have a good rest. Others consider “horrors are the whole science…”.
Addiction to horror films means that the next “dose” of watching a film is necessary like a drug. The organism demands new feelings. This desire of horror film addicted people will never disappear.
The psychologists also warn that frequent watching of horror films is possible not only to spoil the nervous system, but also to gain weight (Sexton). The researches of Chicago medical school revealed that during watching the horror films, the audience ate a large quantity of popcorn. However, during the adventure films and comedies even gluttons forget about edibles.
Some researchers also assume that frequent watching of horror films leads to the pressure increase, headaches, tension of the nervous system and other negative consequences. Regular watching of similar films prompts the level of aggression to raise and the quality of a dream to fall considerably (Hunt). As a whole, it is not recommended for adults to watch horror films more often than once in several months.
On the contrary, watching the films with a positive plot can influence the mentality of a person positively, improve an emotional condition, and help with a stress overcoming. This reception is widely used in psychotherapy and received the name “a film therapy” (a method of impact on mentality of a person by means of watching the films, its discussion and judgment). Different genres are used for this purpose, except horrors, the choice of a film depends on the goals and tasks.
Unfortunately, many do not understand that sometimes a bad mood, aggression, rage and even hatred can be imposed by the films with a negative plot, where violence, rage, and pain are present in each shot. Watching of such films can cause a person to experience similar emotions and feelings that influence the viewer’s life. It is impossible to underestimate the influence of horror films on mentality of a person.
Terrifying stories, for example, about a doomsday and other scaring things are often guessed by the editorial office employees because they are the most beneficial financially. The main task of them is to frighten the viewers, force them to shiver with fear, and then to have sleepless nights. The superfluous stress leads to adrenaline raise; it means that the cortisol level increases in the organism. A person starts to “be aloof”, which only provides the nervous tension. Thus, the vicious circle turns out; TV works, the stress increases, and diseases start to develop even faster.
If a person saw the film “The killer inside me”, he/she “fed” the aggression which got on a subconscious level through consciousness. Then it can be shown through the aggressive relation to other people, animals and so on. Frequent watching of such films will lead to the rise of aggression, which influences the human life. People will not only be aggressive in relation to others, but it will become harder to control their feelings. The events which provoke a person to the manifestation of aggressive behavior will become frequent.
The results of various researches concerning the impact of horror movies have always been inconsistent. In spite of the fact that cruel films represent a danger to the society, the violence, presented in such movies, is not the only reason of it. There are also other factors, which promote intellectual and emotional deviations of the viewers. These factors include the parental neglect, unsafe environment, intimidation, etc. All these factors may become the reason of wrong psychological development of the viewers and provoke aggressive behavior.
The researches show that violence in horror movies has more impact on women than on men. Women face violence and cruelty less frequently. Therefore, their reaction to aggressive movies may appear much stronger than men’s reaction. It is known that men and women react differently on horror movies. The viewer’ age does not play a considerable role because the impact of such movies is identical on both adults and young viewers. However, young generation is more vulnerable. The distinction is that violence in horror movies less often influences the older people, and it becomes less apparent in their subsequent aggressive behavior.
Positive Aspect of Horror Films
However, there is also an opposite opinion on this problem. Any normal person understands that film is somebody’s fiction and fantasy. In the real life, a person can easily die of “the caused harm”. In case with films, it is possible to judge “the infliction of harm” only in abstract forms of violence; for example, blood, human dying sounds, immovability of the murdered, and so on.
Real violence means causing harm to someonereal. In case with movies, it deals with causing harm to something as all the enemies are mostly imagined or virtual. The viewers see the image of the enemy and, according to their life experience or by means of logic, they understand that this is not a true enemy.
At last, there is the third counterargument that is the effect of violence. The results of real violence are, as a rule, death, mutilation, spiritual wounds as well as pain, rage, and hatred, which generate, in its turn, even more violence. The result of virtual violence is not any of the listed. The virtual death is not fatal, and that is its radical difference from the real death. This difference erases the facts to consider the given type of death to be evil. The viewer does not experience rage to the enemies and treats them purely utilitarian.
The experts, investigating the impact of horror films on mentality of a person, were divided into two groups. One part supports an idea that horror films have a positive impact. Psychologist David Rudd by means of horror films relieves the patients of many types of phobias. His theory is that if a person is daily subjected to the same test which causes fear, the brain of the person will get used to it and cease to accept it as a danger. Other scientists consider that horrors prompt to raise aggression of teenagers because of watching films with violence scenes, blood, and cruelty. Many have phobias (fear of darkness, water, etc.). Everything depends on individual characteristics of human mentality, his/her imagination, and adequacy. Everyone should decide whether to watch horror movies or not. However, if after watching a horror film, fear, concern, nervousness arise, it will be better to stop and address to the expert in order to analyze the reason of the arisen illnesses.
More than 1000 researches were carried out by the leading institutes and experts in the field of psychiatry. Scientists have collected conclusive proves that the cause and effect of the relationship between violence on the screen and aggressive behavior of a certain group of adults exist. The conclusion of the doctors’ community that was received as a result of more than 30-year scientific search affirms that watching the scenes of violence can lead to the development of aggressive feelings, reactions, and behavior in adults. Moreover, the long watching of cruel scenes may be the reason that a person becomes insensible in relation to the violence in real life. Two systems for horror movies were created to reduce their negative impact. These systems subdivide all the films depending on the level of violence, perversity of speech, the degree of heroes’ nakedness, the use of drugs, presented in them. It helps a person to decide whether a film worth watching it.