Maintaining a Healthy Relationship With Fear - Why We Love Horror Films

Maintaining a Healthy Relationship With Fear - Why We Love Horror Films

January 25, 20192 min read

With post-apocalyptic thrillers like Bird Box rising in popularity in the United States and around the world (according to Netflix, 45 million people streamed the film), we begin wondering what the appeal of these horror genre films is.

Dr. Kyle William Bishop, assistant professor of English and academic coordinator of the Southern Utah University Honors Program, specializes in film and television studies in the areas of popular culture and cinematic adaptation and has a few thoughts on why we love to be scared:

“One of the primary functions of art, particularly those that present an audience with a narrative, is to provide people with a cathartic experience, a way to feel proxy emotions such as excitement, love, and fear. The latter has long been a vital emotion in terms of human development and, even, survival.”

Dr. Bishop goes on to explain that as a species, we need to maintain a healthy relationship and familiarity with fear, but many real-world experiences that encourage such psychological and physiological responses are potentially dangerous.

“Instead, art forms such as horror movies, television shows, and video games can provide people with the same responses but in a safe, simulated fashion. Many people are thus drawn to the genre of horror: it gives them an adrenaline rush, provides an exhilarating emotional experience, and exorcizes repressed fears and anxieties through simulated scenario exploration. In addition, such experiences can be fun!”

Known for his writing and research regarding popular culture and cinematic adaptation, particularly in the area of zombiesDr. Bishop has published two monographs including “American Zombie Gothic: The Rise and Fall (and Rise) of the Walking Dead in Popular Culture,” and “How Zombies Conquered Popular Culture: The Multifarious Walking Dead in the 21st Century.” He co-edited a collection of essays on zombie literature titled, “The Written Dead: Essays on the Literary Zombie.”

Dr. Bishop is familiar with the media and available for an interview. Simply visit his profile.

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  • Kyle William Bishop
    Kyle William Bishop Chair and Professor of English Department

    Specializing in British Gothic literature, film and television studies, cinematic adaptation, and pop culture

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