I have to say that out of all the film watchers in the world I am most impressed with the horror junkies. Those unique individuals who can watch any skin crawling flick and never lose a wink of sleep. Lately, I’ve been trying to be more like them, and I think you should join me on my quest.
Here are the top four reasons why you should stop everything you are doing right now and start watching horror films.
1. It can help you lose weight.
I don’t know about you, but I’m always looking for a quick way to shed some pounds. And it just so happens that horror films can scare some calories out of you.
According to an article in the Guardian, a study conducted at the University of Westminster found that the mere act of watching a horror film for at least 90-minutes burns around the same number of calories as a half-hour walk or 20-minutes of strength training.
And if you really want to maximize your terror-filled workout, these are the top three calorie-burning films: The Shining (184 calories), Jigsaw (161 calories) and The Exorcist (158 calories).
2. You will be supporting gender equality.
There is no doubt that the horror genre has a long history of misogynistic films. Just take a second and Google the movie poster for The Slumber Party Massacre (1982). Go ahead, I’ll wait… See what I mean?
But believe it or not, horror—at least in Hollywood—is the only film genre in which women appear on-screen more often than men.
Horror also has a long history of leading ladies: Carrie (1976) stars Sissy Spacek as a telepathic high school student who doesn’t take it lightly if you play pranks on her. Kathy Bates won an Oscar for her performance as a psychotic fan in the 1990 film Misery—the sludge hammer scene alone makes it a can’t miss film. Naomie Harris swiftly takes out zombies in 28 Days Later (2002). And newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy co-stars in The Witch (2015) as the eldest daughter of a family in 1630s New England where witchcraft stirs up a bit of family drama to say the least.
Let’s also not forget that some of horrors most well-known set pieces can be attributed to two famous female writers:
First there is Mary Shelley, the English novelist, who created one of the most iconic creatures to ever lurk on the silver screen: Frankenstein’s monster.
There is also the American writer Shirley Jackson who in 1959 published The Haunting of Hill House that forever changed the way ghost stories were depicted in films.
3. Because you like films that make you think.
Avengers: Endgame was a lot of fun to watch, but I didn’t leave the theater thinking more deeply about the world. It didn’t change my perspective. It didn’t expand my brain. Horror on the other hand often does and is well known for doing so.
Rosemary’s Baby (1968) on the surface might seem to be just a psychological horror film about a pregnant woman being manipulated by an evil cult, but it’s also widely considered a commentary on women’s reproductive rights.
For some casual viewers The Babadook (2014) is simply a film about a single-mother fighting off a storybook monster, but if you pay attention, it’s also a study of human grief.
One can argue that Get Out (2017) is just an updated horror version of 1967’s Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, but more importantly it is a film attempting to expose the subtle but sinister aspects of liberal racism. And the film that kept me up for four nights straight—Hereditary (2018)—is both a story about demons and an exploration of mental illness.
4. It’s uplifting.
Winston Churchill once said, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” In other words, after the darkness comes the light. Horror is one genre that understands this far better than any other—it often ends on a hopeful note even in the bleakest of circumstances.
So, if you’re having a hell of a day in which complications in your life feel like evil spirits that just keep haunting you, perhaps a scary flick can give you a bit of a reprieve. You’ll witness humans in dire straits take out a supernatural baddie against all odds.
You can cheer them on and then sleep soundly realizing that the true gift of horror is showing us that we can overcome our fears.
Of course, I won’t think any less of you if you decide to sleep with a nightlight on; I know I still do.