Getting Scared to Control Our Fears: Why it Might be Beneficial to Watch a Horror Movie During the Time of COVID-19

For people who enjoy and voluntarily watch horror movies, there are known health benefits, like the benefits one might get from mild to moderate exercise. The positives of exercise do not just include burning calories, but can also boost the immune system. According to research, to accrue the health perks of watching a horror movie, the viewer must want to be scared. That is how someone can get a sense of accomplishment and relief afterward.

Enter the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools are out indefinitely, people are working from home, and social distancing is the new norm. We are all being advised not to leave our homes except for the necessities and many of us are feeling more isolated than ever. There is so much we cannot control right now. With all the stress many people are experiencing right now – from jobs or lack thereof to family or at-home stress and everything in between – a controlled stress-inducing moment may be beneficial. Any semblance of control in an otherwise chaotic world can, if only for a moment, let a person feel that fear (while it is normal and valid) is in their head. That is not to say that the events occurring right now are not real or serious, but since there is not much we can do to stop it, it is not worth devoting too much time worrying about it.

We all know constant, long term stress can have negative mental and physical impacts, so a short period of time in which you choose to feel stressed and have a self-induced adrenal rush may not only let trick your brain into fight or flight mode, but will give you control even if only for a short period of time.

For people who do not necessarily love the experience of being scared by a movie, the storyline itself might be enough distraction. The plot of a horror movie that is told over a few hours can provide relief from the barrage that is the news cycle. Anyone who has ever seen a horror movie (and especially those of us who have seen quite a few) can easily predict when the scares will occur. Usually there is a change in music or color or time of day. So why not just choose to watch a movie of a different genre if all you need is a distraction?

Watching a horror movie is an immersive experience, to be scared by it, you have to limit distractions; ignore your phone and put your work aside. While the plots do not always make the most intricate movies, most of the time a scary movie can transport us to a world that is very unlike our own, yet the fears of the characters are not unfamiliar either.

So if you really enjoy scary movies, or even if you consider yourself a horror movie newbie, pop some popcorn, turn down the lights, and press play. You are in control and your brain will thank you later. 

Horror movies with “happy” (or resolved) endings: 

Get Out

The Shining

It Chapter Two

The Sixth Sense

Let the Right One In

Happy Death Day

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