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Categories: Features

Personally, I love horror films but I hate being scared. A paradox? Maybe. I like the intellectual-creative buttons horror films push for me but I don’t like checking under my bed for gremlins. I never gave it much thought but it transpires that how I view horror films could say a lot about me.

In Internet dating there’s a popular site which uses a questionnaire to establish compatibility between users. Using the info compiled from millions of profiles, the site then creates dating statistics. Most significantly they establish a link between relationship trends and specific questions.

When it came to assessing the long-term potential of a couple, they discovered three questions gave the strongest indication of a positive engagement. The questions weren’t about political leanings or dreams. Nope, it was agreement on:

– Have ever been tempted to and go and live on a boat?
– Have you ever travelled in another country by yourself?
Do you like horror films?

I can understand how the first two questions could reveal compatibility but…horror films? What’s so special about horror films? How can a shared view on a movie genre be more indicative of long-term potential than outlooks on religion, or family?

Horror director Conor McMahon says, “There’s a whole series of topics you can talk to someone about if you know they are into horror. You can probably talk more openly on ideas about life and death, not in a morbid sense, but just a curiosity. Usually the battle against the monster is the battle with ourselves”.

Horror movies are creative, fantastical, and they push the boundaries of right and wrong. Does what we tolerate in the movies reflect our boundaries in life?


blood heart

Confronted with atrocities on screen, we’re choosing to ignore, reject or face the baser instincts of humankind. People who don’t like horror may not want to know about the terrible things we’re capable of. Between people who do like horror, some will use the terrible events on screen to reject and get catharsis from their inner demons, while others will see the story as a mirror for their darker psyche. A shared view on how deeply we want to look at ourselves is probably a critical factor in a romantic relationship.

And then there’s the fear factor…

I had an ex who used to love being scared. We watched The Ring together and afterwards he sat in a darkened room, relishing the feeling of rising fear. On the other hand, I spent the next few weeks glancing suspiciously at TV sets and hallucinating that my purple dressing gown was the hair of the evil ghost child. (Is it coincidence that he’s an ex?)

“There are people I know who just hate horror films, would never look at one and don’t understand why anyone would want to scare themselves. Then there’s others who love getting scared, knowing they are not going to die. The closer you get to death the more alive you feel. Horror films offer people that experience. Some people are more open to that experience than others”.


Could the like or dislike of horror films reflect a primal aspect of ourselves that we’ve repressed and somehow colours what we’re looking for in a long-term union? Who knows. But let’s put the theory to the test! Do you and your partner have a shared view on horror films? Let us know the result!

And wrapping up the column for this month, here’s a Halloween-themed track from Irish music producer, Mac. Enjoy!


Conor McMahon is an Irish director.  You can check out his short horror film “Braineater” here


Statistics taken from OkCupid’s OkTrends http://blog.okcupid.com/index.php/page/2/

Posted on Oct 26, 2013

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