Without going into things too deeply, scary movies tend to keep people up at night for a reason. Some folks can watch the spine-tingling, gore-heavy, terrifying movies that have been made so popular whether it’s day or night, but even the most hardcore fans can probably admit that before they became desensitized (it is VERY possible) to the blood and guts on the screen, that watching horror at night does bring a rather interesting feeling. It’s amazing that anyone would argue with the idea that the fight or flight response that a horror movie can create in us, but some still do. Even knowing that it’s all fake and that it’s there for entertainment value, a lot of people can’t help but avoid scary movies at night or keep a pot of coffee nearby to stave off that ever-important need to close our eyes. But one has to wonder just why it’s worse during the night than during the day. Believe it or not, a lot of people wouldn’t be able to articulate this fear and might end up saying ‘it just is’.
There is a reason why horror movies are worse for some people to watch at night than they are during the day, and it’s kind of simple to be fair since it hearkens back to childhood for a lot of people. Some folks manage to overcome this, and some will actually feel that their fight impulse will strengthen as their flight impulse might stay right where it needs to be. Personally, the fight impulse is stronger due to the fact that anger can be a default reaction to being scared. While some might find this toxic as well as foolish, it’s come in handy more than once when watching horror movies at a late hour. But the reason why watching horror at night is largely due to the fact that there’s a serious lack of stimulus from the darkness just beyond your sight. To better explain, a human being’s vision is better during the daylight hours, meaning that you can see what’s going on, you can see what’s coming at you (hopefully), and you can possibly react to it in time.
During the nighttime hours, visibility is usually limited unless there’s a light source nearby, meaning that unless one can see what’s going on in the darkness, then the fear of the unknown tends to creep in eventually, triggering that fight or flight response, and many will end up feeling the fear that triggers the flight response, or, as in my own case, will get angry at whatever is making them afraid, and will thereby trigger the fight response. In either case though, this means that watching horror movies at night is going to be far more stressful on the body and will trigger certain responses that will force the body to stay awake for a little longer due to what the brain will perceive as a possible threat. The body will act on its own when it comes to self-preservation at times, which means that there are those moments that the body will quietly but convincingly take over in an effort to make sure that survival is a possibility.
There are folks that don’t react in this way as they’ve either become desensitized to the type of horror that some movies can produce, or they’ve somehow learned to master the automatic responses that take control when the fear response that is present in every human being threatens to take over. But as much as some fans might try to deny it, that electric thrill that courses up and down a person’s spine when watching a particularly scary movie is still bound to happen no matter how much one masters their own reactions to the horror. There are certain functions that people simply can’t control, though outwardly it might appear that nothing affects them in the least bit. Scary movies are bound to affect a lot of people, and while some might appear to react in any outward manner, inside their body is hitting the fear button, even if there’s a disconnect between the inner and outer reactions. The lack of stimulus that one finds in the dark is often one very big reason why some people can’t go to sleep that easily after watching a horror movie.
Being scared that a make-believe monster is out to get you is the mind’s way of overreacting, but with movies such as The Purge and any other horror movie set in a realistic setting, it’s easy to think that some folks might not be able to sleep well for much longer than a single night. Everyone has a different reaction to horror movies, but when nighttime comes, it’s very likely that many people will feel that familiar tingle when they see nothing but blackness outside and a deranged killer on the screen.