Grieving Through Horror Films

Shortly after my father passed, I received a phone call from my younger brother. He told me that he kept watching horror films and that they were, in a way, making him feel better. He asked me if that was strange. Now, to some, that may seem very strange: watching films where terrible things happen to people. But, I informed my brother, it’s not as weird as you would think. Lots of people use horror films as a coping mechanism during sad times. And I have done this for as long as I can remember.

There’s a weird comfort that comes with horror films, if you’re already a fan of the genre. The horror genre is the easiest to detach yourself from. Depending on the film, what you’re watching can be so outlandish that it helps you separate what’s real and what’s not. You watch terrible things happen to others, which in turn makes you feel a little better, or at least comforted, with what is going on in your life. It’s a lot like that saying “misery loves company”.

At the same time that you’re watching these horrible things happen to fictional people, you remember that horror films aren’t about the killing and the atrocities that happen. They’re about survival. They’re about characters who experience the worst possible things and still manage to make it out (yes, there are exceptions to this rule, obviously). It’s a subconscious reminder that you’re going to be okay. It’s a subconscious reminder that you’ll come out stronger than you were before.

Since my father’s passing and my return to California, I have watched almost exclusively horror films. It helps that it’s now October, so my choices are seemingly endless. But, as I stated above, I have done this for as long as I can remember. I even have a list of my go-to horror films for when I’m feeling sad: House of 1,000 Corpses (this one is particularly brutal. I can dissociate the most with this one), Get Out, The Cabin in the WoodsRosemary’s Baby, and The Silence of the Lambs. Those are the ones that come to mind right away. They’re films that I can watch anytime, but I find comfort in all of them when I’m sad.

Honestly, the human grieving process is weird. It’s different for everybody. And, if horror films help you in that process, just know that you’re not alone. There’s a bunch of us. And we’re all going through the same shit.

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