What Fright Fans Really Think About The Scariness In Horror Movies

Horror movies range from realistic to fantastical, jump scares to psychological torment, gory to bloodless, and everything in between. Some people love popcorn horror flicks, while other horror fans want something more complicated and cerebral. The 2.3 million Reddit subscribers of r/horror certainly know a thing or two about the genre, and one of them posed an interesting question. User Neuwim posed the following question to the subreddit, "Not all horrors must be scary. Good story is most important. Do you agree?" They elaborate, saying that, after you've seen them once, some films don't really have anything to offer outside of the story, because the suspense is muted based on viewers knowing what will happen. "On the other hand some horrors you rewatch 10 times or every halloween, and they are still good, even [if] you can quote every moment from memory. It is because they have [a] fascinating story, you watch them for pleasure of watching them in full, not for 5 minutes of scary moments." 

Fans may be surprised to find out how the horror movie community responded.

For horror fans, there's not one kind of "scary"

Many users agreed with this take, with Neuwim's original post 84% upvoted; they prioritize an unsettling atmosphere in a movie over traditional "scary moments," such as jump scares. The best horror movies don't need these kinds of elements, in essence. Of course, some users don't totally agree with this train of thought. User Peanlocket says "I'm not watching the horror genre for "good" stories. I'm watching to get [scared]." However, what qualifies as "scary" is up for debate. Horror films, like those of any genre, are not one-size-fits-all. 

According to Neuwim, and the many other redditors who agree, frightening moments found in classic horror films like "Nightmare on Elm Street" aren't necessary for a horror film. Rather, it's the terror and creepy vibe laid out by the story that leave audiences entertained and thinking about the film long after they've left the theater. "I've never found slashers to be particularly frightening, whereas something that isn't particularly gory but is deeply unsettling ... can keep me up for days," says user FigsnTacos,

User aquaislife elaborates on the nuances of the horror genre, saying, "... The scary element can be built in numerous ways. Jump scares for a quick reaction, slow built tension over a whole film to an all out climax, scenes built entirely around a source of tension, feeding on common anxieties of people, things meant to feel uncomfortable, etc. In addition blood and violence is sometimes put in to be a fun thing as opposed to a source of fear, like popcorn flick slashers or something." 

The fright fans of r/horror seem to agree: hidden villains, chainsaws, and bloody knives aren't necessary for a film to qualify as a positive contribution to the horror genre. It's the mystery, exciting stakes, and sense of dread that make the genre so popular. However, we think one thing for sure: if we're going to watch a horror film, we definitely want to be scared.