What is ‘Horror’ to You?


What is ‘Horror’ to You?

The other day on Facebook someone said, Stir of Echoes wouldn’t be considered a horror film. Really? It has a vena stir of echoes - bookgeful spirit/ghost, it has some nasty deaths, it has creepy atmosphere… it certainly ain’t a drama. It is written smarter and with more complexity than your average horror genre flick, thanks to the pen of Richard Matheson, but I would still consider it horror.

I would tend to think that paranormal films are more horror than slasher films, but some people disagree. stir of echoesJust because someone doesn’t find a particular film scary, doesn’t mean it’s not horror.

You’re Next is more of a suspense/thriller film than horror, but I feel if someone dies in a nasty way and didn‘t deserve it, it is pretty horrible and therefore considered horror. So my definition of horror is in the broad sense. Of course, even though Ghost had a supernatural element to it, I wouldn’t consider that film horror. Nor would I consider all of the ‘romance with ghosts’ novels and stories that have inundated Amazon.com lately, to be horror. But that’s just me. If you want to consider them horror be my guest, I won’t argue.


My definition of horror is:
‘a book, film, or story that raises your defense mechanism, makes you nervous, edgy, frightened, or scared with the threat of danger, death, and even damnation, at the hands of an individual or thing, above and beyond the conventions of normalcy.’ 


To further explain, being attacked by a serial killer is not a normal event. Attacked by a poltergiest or angry spirit isn’t either. I would consider both horror.Seven film

I wouldn’t consider a Tom Clancy novel horror, even though it raises your defense mechanism, and includes the threat of danger/death. If you are in the mob, or if you cross the mob and get shot for it – that is normal for that lifestyle and not considered horror. Likewise, if we are following a detective who is investigating/hunting a serial killer, that is somewhat normal for what they do and would most likely be considered a thriller or crime drama.

In certain instances a thriller can cross over into the horror genre, like in Se7en and Silence of the Lambs. Serial killer films can be considered horror if we are up close and intimate with the killer’s actions – if we can actually experience the horror felt by their victims. They create a psychological horror atmosphere – an atmosphere of horror within your mind. The Human Centipede and Maniac are definitely horror under this aspect. Jaws can also be considered horror under this parameter.


I would consider most stories with a ghost, spirit or a supernatural entity to be horror. I would also consider films with a psychological terror aspect to be horror. Of course, Horror has many sub-genres. I will have a post about sub-genres in the near future.

But until then, What is horror to you?

What are your feelings on what makes a good horror story?

What films are considered horror that you wouldn’t consider horror?

– and visa-versa –

What films are not considered horror that you would classify as horror?


5 thoughts on “What is ‘Horror’ to You?

  1. I agree with your breakdown; “Horror” is really a very broad category that, as you pointed out, can also feature ‘cross-over’ films from other genres (most commonly “Thriller” and “Sci-Fi”).

  2. Movies or books don’t scare me anymore. They are not real! It’s fiction! I see it more as amusement, the “scarier” it gets, the harder it makes me laugh. Maybe there’s something to say for laughing your fears away? I find real life stressing enough, i refuse to get terrorised by media! What really frightens me is what’s my next door neighbour is up to…

    • Yeah, I would have to agree with you, I’ve seen every possible combination of horror story in film and books – nothing is really scary, anymore. I guess the horror and sci-fi I like best these days are ones with a social commentary on the world and the people in it – if it has some sort of message or point to the story, I enjoy it.

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