Why We Love Scary Movies

“Do you like scary movies?” – The killer in the Scream

I love scary movies, for many reasons. My parents were huge fans of Stephen King and other horror classics, so we grew up watching these films, especially around Halloween. Every October, people flock the movie theater to see the newest scary flick – which right now is Carrie and House in the Alley.

Some people don’t like horror films because they don’t like to be scared, or they find them scandalous. I don’t like the blood and gore-type scary movies, but I like the more thriller-type films. I love a good scary movie.

One of the most fascinating things about horror films, and one of the things that I love most about them, is that they promote virtue. Don’t believe me? Let me explain.

Have you ever noticed how the lead character in horror films is almost always the most virtuous person, thus they’re almost always the only one to survive? Well, it’s true. There are rules to surviving in horror films, and these same rules remain constant throughout most scary movies. Just like any rule, there are exceptions, but when you think about these rules – it’s actually pretty amazing.

One of the easiest and most prominent rules is that if you are kind and/or try to help someone, you’ll probably survive. If you’ve seen Carrie, you know that being mean or bullying people will always come back to haunt you. If you’re kind and generous, you’ll be shown mercy.

If you lie, cheat, or steal, you will likely have a target on your back. We all know that honesty is the best policy, and that holds true in horror films as well. A teenage girl lies to her parents in Halloween, as she claims that she’s babysitting, but then pawns the kid off on Jamie Lee Curtis and heads off to a party… she never makes it to the party. Or Psycho, remember when Janet Leigh embezzles money from her employer, goes on the run, and then lies to the owner of the motel where she’s staying? We all remember how that story ends, with the infamous shower scene. In both situations, the deceitful character dies.

In many horror films, there is at least one couple that engages in pre-marital sex, and is killed shortly thereafter. This could be a metaphor for AIDS and STDs, but could also be seen as pro-chastity. There are too many films to mention that feature this demise, but Halloween, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Friday the 13th, are a few of them.

Another rule in horror films is stay away from drugs and alcohol. It’s acceptable to have one drink, but if you’re drunk or have done drugs, you’ll end up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and your judgment is hindered, so you really have no chance of survival.

Lastly, if you are hopeful or have faith that you’ll survive, you most likely will. Characters in horror films, who are hopeful and have faith, see things more clearly and are stronger in their decision-making skills. They see their future clearly and will do anything they can to protect it.

I am not condoning any character’s demise for being un-virtuous, but I think the lessons on virtue in horror films are interesting and worth pointing out. Virtue is to strive to do what is good, what is true, and what is just. No one is perfect, and the struggle is real.  But, horror films present the very real life lesson that we should strive to be virtuous, or the result is death. We will all die someday, hopefully not at the hands of some crazy killer like Michael Myers, but we should all be striving to live a virtuous life.

In honor of Halloween, check out a scary movie and remember – horror films promote virtue.

The writer’s horror film suggestions for Halloween 2013:

Carrie

Halloween

Session 9

The Conjuring

The Exorcism of Emily Rose

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