As counterintuitive as it may sound, horror movies are good for you, or at least they can be for most. Obviously anyone with heart conditions shouldn't be lining up for an hour-and-a-half (give or take) of any adrenalin pumping, heart thumping, activity. But for your average viewer, thrill-seeker or not, a good horror flick affects your physical health in many positive ways. Furthermore, much evidence exists that points to why horror movies benefit your mental health, including rushes of serotonin and shifting your mind's perception. In ways most still don't understand, the most brutal movies make well-adjusted audiences, who receive their cathartic and chemical release from horror's adrenaline-inducing properties.
So at your next sleepover, suggest streaming one of Netflix's best horror movies to your friends. When they begin to object, tell them how horror movies help you to lose weight and boost your immune system. How could you not sleep easy after that?
As a disclaimer, many horror movies portray truly off-the-wall premises, think Sharknado or Eight-Legged Freaks. Others exist, however, that get pretty realistic and can smack the naivety out of slower viewers. For most folks, common sense dictates you do not pick up hitchhikers or open your door to strangers after dark (especially when alone). But in the same way that not all horror movies think the same way, not all humans think rationally either.
They stop to give Leatherface directions; they invite black-eyed children in for tea; and they never think twice about going outside alone to investigate a strange noises. Some people need these cautionary tales in order to see how horribly things can play out. This is why folklore exists in the first place, to hand down various cautions from generation to generation. Horror movies act as an entertaining way to stop people from doing stupid stuff, or at least get them to think twice about their actions.
The insane scenarios set before you by the horror genre have a way of putting things into perspective. One might enter a movie theater extremely irritated by their significant other for ordering Twizzlers instead of Red Vines only to exit simply grateful they never met a Norman Bates or a Billy Loomis. Mom and dad said "No" to your proposed beach-side vacation? Put on Jaws and be thankful your local pool only goes 12-feet deep.
In most cases, no matter what the complaint is, a crazy family life, worst job ever, terrible relationships... there's a horror movie to show you just how much worse things could really be. You'll find your life to be far more manageable than you originally thought.
As strange as it may sound, many anxious people self-medicate using horror films. Horror triggers the fight-or-flight response within the body, but because the viewer remains detached in a safe and controlled environment, this rush is soon followed by feel-good endorphins like serotonin. The resulting rush can be quite therapeutic for anyone, especially those suffering with anxiety.
Furthermore, the stress of watching a horror movie alone distracts you from the stress you may be feeling IRL. After all, how can anyone sit through Scream and not direct your anxiety towards its incredibly naive characters?
Most horror films take ordinary people and drop them into extraordinarily horrific circumstances which they either triumph over or fall victim to. One views a scary movie, appreciates it, and then turns that appreciation onto themselves and their own life and how much better they have it than most. While empathetic for the characters, viewers are more relieved to not be them.
According to Dr. Mathias Clasen,"There's psychological distance when we watch a horror film. We know it's not real—or at least, some parts of our brain know it isn't real. Other parts—ancient structures located in the limbic system—respond as though it were real." He goes on to explain, "the genre allows us to voluntarily—and under controlled circumstances—get experience with negative emotion."
By exposing yourself to these negative thoughts from the safety of home or a theater, your brain must face and process them. In doing so, your mind learns to deal with them more efficiently, thus making your life that much easier.