A Summary of Stephen King’s Essay “Why We Crave Horror Movies”

A while back, renowned author Stephen King wrote an essay that appeared in a leading magazine entitled “Why We Crave Horror Movies.” In that essay, he tried to explain why people enjoy watching scary movies so much more than virtually any other type of movie out there. The idea he came up with was one that actually surprised a lot of people, and it certainly made them stop and think about how they interact with their own little corner of the world for a minute.

In this essay, King made it very clear that in his opinion, the reason that people enjoy watching horror movies is because no one is completely sane. He even went as far as to say that mental illness is something that every person has in common, only some people are able to hide it somewhat better than others. That’s right, King very clearly connected people who live what most individuals consider a relatively normal life with those who are living inside insane asylums, stating that the only difference is that one group of people was capable of hiding their insanity better than the other.

He goes on to say that the reason horror films are so popular is because it is a relatively safe way of feeding that insanity. People enjoy watching the gore, feeling that rush of adrenaline that comes when watching something in this particular genre, and perhaps even watching other people carry out things on the screen that they would never actually do in real life, even if they have thought about it a time or two.

The interesting thing is that many people have said that they think Stephen King is both a genius and crazy, all at the same time. Many individuals say they would never want to spend the night alone in a house with him, because if he is able to have that kind of stuff going through his head, they wouldn’t feel very comfortable in his presence without other people around. According to King, he’s merely writing what everyone else thinks about at one time or another.

Is this really true? There certainly were a large number of responses to this essay. Some people were outraged that he would even make such a statement and others actually agreed with him. For the most part, it made the average everyday citizen stop and take a long, hard look at themselves. For anyone that does enjoy horror films to the point of seeking out virtually every one that’s ever been made in order to get that adrenaline rush, the question becomes even more pressing. Why is it so interesting to watch something when you know something bad is going to happen? Why does it seem so appealing to watch something filled with a tremendous amount of gore, questionable subject lines, and boundaries that sometimes shouldn’t be crossed? If you’re the person that sits and watches these movies, do you really have any right to criticize the people who wrote them? After all, no one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to watch it.

This was ultimately the point that King was making. Everyone has free will. For anyone that flocks to these types of movies, they just might be a little bit crazy, at least as much as whoever wrote them in the first place.

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