The Societal Impact of Horror Movies: Reflections on a Class Project

Horror movies are a reflection of the society they were created in. 

They often reflect the fears, anxieties and concerns of the time. For instance, in the 1950s during the height of the Cold War, films like “The Blob” and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” depicted the fear of communism and the threat of nuclear war. In the 1960s and 70s, horror films like “Night of the Living Dead” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” explored themes of social unrest and the breakdown of societal norms. In recent years, horror movies like “Get Out” and “Us” have tackled issues of racism and inequality.

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Horror movies also function as a form of escapism, allowing viewers to confront their fears in a safe and controlled environment. They provide a cathartic experience for audiences, allowing them to experience fear and anxiety without the actual physical danger.

Recently in PLP, we visited Seattle after spending time studying these ideas. 

During our visit to Seattle, we explored the Museum of Pop Culture’s horror movie exhibit. There, we saw artifacts and props from some of the most iconic horror films, including “The Shining” and “Psycho.” It was fascinating to see how these movies were made, and the amount of effort that goes into creating a truly terrifying experience for the audience. Later in the project, we were challenged to create our own horror movie. 

But what struck me the most was the section of the exhibit that focused on the societal impact of horror movies. It showcased how horror movies have been used as a tool to address social issues, such as racism, sexism, and homophobia. By using horror tropes and imagery, filmmakers are able to create a heightened sense of fear and unease, which can be used to examine and analyze these societal issues in a way that is both accessible and impactful.

As we left the exhibit, I couldn’t help but think about the role that horror movies play in our society. They not only entertain us, but they also challenge us to confront our deepest fears and anxieties, and to examine the world around us in a new and meaningful way. Whether we’re watching a classic horror film from the 1950s or a modern-day horror movie that addresses the social issues of our time, one thing is clear: horror movies will always be a reflection of our society and the fears that we face.

Creating the film as a class was challenging. I found it extremely difficult to be in a position where decisions were out of my control. I found my investment in the final product was minimal. 

I really didn’t like the process of creating this movie. I hated the subject, cancel culture, and found my opportunities limited because I chose not to attend a field study. I also found that our leaders were much too new to their role and weren’t able to divide up work evenly.  

Overall, my experience with the horror movie project was mixed. While I appreciated the opportunity to learn about the societal impact of horror movies and the filmmaking process, I found the actual task of creating the movie to be frustrating and limiting. Despite this, I recognize the importance of horror movies as a reflection of our society and a tool for exploring complex issues. Whether or not I personally enjoy watching them, I have gained a new appreciation for the genre and its impact on our culture.

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