Scary Movies: What Happens to Your Body When you Watch this Genre?

Here are the things happening to your body when you watch scary movies

SCARY MOVIES – Several things are happening to your body when you watch scary/horror/thriller movies that you probably don’t know yet.

Throughout the history of film, there are already several scary characters who are instilled in the minds of moviegoers. Although they may look frightful and sometimes disgusting, there are people who became fans also of these fictional characters. It is also a fact that many people love this genre of movies.

Based on the article from The Healthy, watching scary movies actually has effects on your body, brain, and even hormones.

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Photo courtesy of Live About


Matthew Price, a research engineer at the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in the UT Health McGovern Medical School in Houston explained the “there are two parts of the brain that are involved in our reaction to things like fear.” This measures human physiological responses to fear-inducing stimuli. The two parts of your brain – (1) prefrontal cortex(responsible for high-order cognitive functions), and the (2) limbic system (where you have the amygdala, the part that lights up in an MRI where you encounter something fearful), are talking to each other. There is a discussion between them to indicate how scared you really should be and helps you differentiate between mortal and perceived fear, according to Price.


Greg J. Siegle, PhD, associate professor of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, who tracked physiological responses to a haunted house during a recent study, said that watching horror films can actually be calming for your mind both during and after. Their research stated that “people were able to shut down a lot of their thinking brain and were able to exist in a very present but not highly analytical state both during and an hour afterward.” This same effect can be acquired from watching horror films.


When you have chronic stress, you are releasing cortisol all day and this is not a good thing, according to Dr. Siegle. However, a little amount of getting scared while in the state of general arousal will allow your brain to access emotional processing that you will have on a normal basis. Then, this will result in some kind of adrenaline rush. He added that this is the reason why some people take their dates on a scary movie.


According to experts, people tend to disregard or do not entertain the feeling of fear and pity but by watching scary movies, these emotions are being released. “Now I’m not endorsing scary movies as any sort of therapy per se, of course, I’m just saying look at Shakespeare, most of his storylines involved a terrifying series of events and that goes back thousands of years. That storyline isn’t new, and I don’t think they cause psychological harm,” Price stated. For Dr. Siegle, “I think by virtue of the popularity of scary movies, we can say maybe they’re not something to be avoided, and maybe they’re interesting.”


Based on the haunted-house study, watching horror films can help you channel your energy. However, this depends on how you plan your activity before watching. You can use the burst of energy to your advantage.


“We’ve found that scary movies can help people reclaim those feelings of fear while knowing they’re in a safe environment on their own terms, to start to let those feelings in, and there can definitely be some value in that,” Dr. Siegle explained.

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