Computer generated imaging and advanced design technology have given birth to a new world of filmmaking. The new millennium has seen films such as “Avatar,” “Wonder Woman,” and awesomely gruesome films like the notorious “Saw” series.
The “Saw” movies catapulted the film industry into a new realm of horror and science fiction movies that would not only make their audiences fear everything that goes bump in the night, but also change their brain chemistry altogether.
When people go to watch a scary movie, they are exposing themselves to bloody murder scenes, terrifyingly evil paranormal activity, and triggering psychotic behavior. This exposure to horror films has been scientifically researched to truly gain perspective on exactly what horror movies do to audiences’ brains, and it’s far from happy.
A study conducted by New York University in 2008 found that after showing participants four different film episodes, the Alfred Hitchcock horror episode had the most neurological response from the participants.
“The fact that Hitchcock was able to orchestrate the responses of so many different brain regions, turning them on and off at the same time across all viewers, may provide neuroscientific evidence for his notoriously famous ability to master and manipulate viewers’ minds’ control over participant’s brains,” NYU reported.
If Hitchcock’s classic film was capable of holding 65 percent control over its viewers’ minds, can we even begin to imagine what consistent horror film watching may do to those who watch them?
Another study conducted at Linfield, Iowa State University and Brigham Young University found evidence that aggressive behavior on screen reflects in the behavior of audiences watching horror films.
Whether the behavior includes a paranormal serial killer murdering camp counselors, or invisible forces prying into the minds of their victims to get them to harm themselves or others, aggressive behavior is the main focus of horror films.
Jennifer Ruh Linder, Linfield College psychology professor, said, “Past research has shown that viewing physical violence on TV activates aggressive scripts in the brain, but our findings suggest that watching both onscreen physical or relational aggression activates those cognitive scripts.”
According to Linder, horror film viewers do not consciously choose to imitate characters and engage in aggressive behavior. Instead, it is an automatic response that stems from the subconscious mind.
What else can watching horror films do to the rest of your body? A study conducted by Dutch experts found that horror films actually coagulate your blood. Anyone down for a scary movie-induced blood clot?
When it comes to horror films, audiences should consider the havoc that the scary movies are wreaking on their whole bodies–not just their dreams.