What’s Scarier in a Horror Movie: Realism or Supernaturalism? Also, The Goddess Picks Her Top 20 Scariest Supernatural Films

Beware of house prices that go bump in the night.

I have loved the horror genre for as long as I can remember, and I have been a skeptic of the supernatural for almost as long. But therein lies an interesting contradiction, for as regular readers of this blog will no doubt have gathered, I am most often frightened by horror films featuring supernatural elements, particularly ghosts, demons/the Devil, and witches, even though I emphatically do not believe that any of those things exist.

Why should this be? Logically, you would assume that people in general would be most terrified by a film that portrays something that could actually happen, or that they at least believe could actually happen. By this criteria, for example, movies like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hostel, Wolf Creek, or The Last House on the Left, by virtue of being realistic, should be far scarier than anything that features a white-clad wraith drifting through the halls of a decaying Victorian mansion.

This is not so in my case, and I’m curious as to whether it’s true with other fans of horror. Please do not take this to mean that I’m not a fan of more realistic horrors, because I definitely am. I do not, however, find these movies particularly frightening, and I’ve always wondered why. Why should I be so disturbed by situations and images in film that I’m certain will never happen to me in real life? Is it because I have a greater handle on reality than I do on my own subconscious? Is it simply because I’m more terrified by the unknown than the known-but-horrible? I’d really like some insight into this conundrum, so here’s a poll that you may participate in if you’re so inclined:

Also, if you’d care to expound upon any theories as to why you feel the way you do about the horror movies that scare you the most, then please share them in the comments, because I really am curious and would like to get a discussion going.

And now, because I want to, I present a collage of my Top 20 Scariest Supernatural Movies, in no particular order. How many can you identify? Again, answer in the comments! Until next time, Goddess out.

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