Only a few minutes left in the movie, and you think everyone is safe. But suddenly, as the boy looks under the bed, a clown doll comes to life and grabs him! The scare sends your popcorn flying. Halloween and movies like Poltergeist go hand in hand, but horror movies—from mystery thrillers to chilling ghost and monster tales—are becoming more popular year-round.
In recent years, horror movies have set box office records and even won Academy Awards in 2017. “We’re seeing incredible movies that are just really well made, well written, well filmed, and culturally relevant,” says Margee Kerr. She’s a sociologist who studies fear at the University of Pittsburgh.
But why do people seek out scares in the first place? Kerr says people who like scary things like the physical feeling after “surviving” a scary experience. It’s like the rush runners feel when they finish a long run.
“I realized I like to do scary things when I’m looking for a way to relax or have fun,” she says. Kerr enjoys scary movies, haunted houses, and thrill rides because they’re exciting, but she knows she’s still in control. The adrenaline rush of being scared can make her feel like “a superhero.”
Horror movies have been around since 1896. As horror movies change to reflect what new audiences find frightening, Kerr looks forward to what kinds of screams will come out of the silver screen next.