What Makes Scary Movie Scary?

The Basics of Fear

Before we dive into the specifics of scary movies, let’s talk about fear itself. Fear is a natural emotion that is triggered by a perceived threat.

When we feel afraid, our bodies respond by releasing adrenaline, which prepares us for fight or flight. Fear can be a useful response in dangerous situations, but it can also be triggered by things that are not actually threatening.

The Elements of Scary Movies

Scary movies use a variety of techniques to create a feeling of fear in the audience. Some of the key elements include:

  • Tension: A good scary movie builds tension slowly over time, creating an atmosphere of unease and anticipation.
  • Suspense: Suspense is created by withholding information from the audience, making them wonder what will happen next.
  • Jumpscares: Jumpscares are sudden loud noises or visual surprises that are designed to startle the audience.
  • Gore: Gore refers to graphic depictions of violence or injury. While not all scary movies rely on gore, it can be used to intensify the fear factor.
  • The Unknown: Fear of the unknown is a powerful tool in horror movies. Not knowing what is happening or what will happen next can be terrifying.

The Psychology of Fear

Scary movies work by tapping into our primal fears and anxieties. They often exploit common human fears such as darkness, death, and loss of control. These fears are universal and transcend cultural boundaries.

In addition to these basic fears, scary movies also tap into more specific fears that may vary from person to person. For example, someone who is afraid of spiders may find a horror movie that features spiders to be particularly terrifying.


So what makes scary movies scary It’s a combination of factors, including tension, suspense, jumpscares, gore, and fear of the unknown.

These elements work together to create a sense of unease and anticipation in the audience. By tapping into our primal fears and anxieties, scary movies can leave a lasting impression on their viewers.

If you’re a fan of horror movies, keep an eye out for these elements the next time you watch one. And if you’re not a fan.. well, maybe stick to comedies.