Can you learn to love horror?

“STEM” by Austen Mengler

I have had a few people in my life ask me about my love for horror in arts. I am not going to write about people who share my interest but about those who have seen or read a few horror stories but did not like them (or even resented them). Some of them have this idea that there must be something wrong with me enjoying stories that they find repulsing and unpleasant. Then, out of curiosity or real interest, they ask me to recommend them a good horror movie (or a story) that would help them understand why I think horror is such a great genre. I feel like this is such a tricky question as I have to ask myself if someone who does not naturally incline towards art horror can learn to truly enjoy it. Sure, one can probably learn to appreciate some aspects of horror movies or literature, for example, well written characters or a storyline. But can they truly learn to appreciate and love the emotion that such images of horror provoke?

I find this to be less than believable. I think that one has to be simply born with it. It seems that people who ask for such recommendations expect to suddenly fall in love with the genre, they expect to become enlightened, or have some sort of epiphany about the essence of the genre.

This does not mean that in my opinion people who cannot appreciate the genre are readers or audiences of lesser value. I do not hold this opinion despite many people accusing the horror genre of being overridden with cliches and predictable plots and its audiences of being weirdos who cannot appreciate “true” art forms.

There are horror books/movies/paintings that are better executed than others but I do not believe that there is anything inherent to the genre that would make it less sophisticated than other genres. However, I do think that the emotion can be too much for some people to handle. In the end, the images and strategies of the horror genre aim to incite feelings of discomfort and disgust. A tolerance for such emotions, the ability of being comfortable with them and a motivation to seek them out so they can be experienced again and on different levels cannot be obtained by force.



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