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The Psychology of a Horror Movie Fan

‘Earlier this year, the horror movie genre was pronounced dead. None of the six horror films released before September managed to break $20 million on opening weekend at the box office, and none ended up earning over $32 million total domestically… It’s doubtful anyone truly believed the genre wouldn’t eventually bounce back, but peak scary movie season comes just once a year.

And then there was Annabelle, the spinoff from last year’s The Conjuring. Critics thought it might break 2014’s horror slump, but the film far exceeded those expectations: It earned $37 million on opening weekend, a higher draw than any horror movie in years, and one of the largest openings for a horror movie ever.Its financial success does not mean, however, that Annabelle is well-liked. The movie has a dismal three-percent critic rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. At Grantland, Wesley Morris wrote that Annabelle is emblematic of the genre’s recent tendency toward the “passive-aggressive and hilariously, lazily vague.” Audience reviews have been somewhat more generous (on Rotten Tomatoes, 45-percent of viewers said they liked it), but it seems unlikely the movie has a future as even a cult classic. I have a small group of trusty horror fans whom I can consult when I want to know if any of the genre’s new releases are worth a $20 trip to the theater, and the answer for Annabelle has been a resounding “Nah.”

So why did so many people pay to go see it? It had a strong social media presence, for one thing, and for another, people love a freaky doll. But there’s a deeper motive that likely propelled Annabelle beyond its merits: People who wanted to be terrified at some point this year just got tired of waiting. As movie analyst Phil Contrino told the Washington Post, “As a genre, it’s never completely dead, because people always want to be scared.”…’

Source: Pacific Standard