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Psychological horror vs. slasher

Art by Grace Gill

All my life, I have avoided horror movies. The thrill of being scared out of my mind has never appealed to me, and I didn’t understand why others would submit themselves to that torture. However, with Halloween approaching, and me having only seen a few slightly scary movies in my life, I decided it was time. Time to watch an absolutely terrifying movie, and time to explore the different horror genres.

After weeks of research (watching many mind-bending and gory movies), I decided that although there are different ways to categorize horror movies, there are two main types: psychological and slasher.

What is the difference?

Movies like Us, Mother!, and Get Out are incredible and horrifying examples of psychological movies. This kind of film messes with your mind and makes you never want to close your eyes, lest you submit yourself to the horrors that lurk in the darkness. These types of movies have a typical storyline - it starts off completely normal, with a happy and unassuming main character living their perfect life. The sense of foreboding slowly builds up as we learn pieces of information that are critical to the creepiness of the movie. When we reach the climax of the storyline, however, there is pure horror. It’s less of a bloody mess and more of a general idea or realization that will haunt you for the rest of time.

For example, Us is a movie that will forever be at the forefront of my mind. While the entire film is chilling and absolutely terrifying, the very end carries with it a flashback that changes everything you thought you knew about the horrible universe of that movie, influencing it in a way nothing else could have. Other movies such as Get Out have the same themes - it’s generally creepy throughout the entire thing, but the pieces come together in the end to form a horrifying picture that truly makes you think about our society today.

On the opposite side of the horror spectrum sit slasher movies. There really isn’t much to say about these movies - they mainly center around a deranged murderer who won’t stop until everyone dies in a horribly creative and brutal way. As stated in the Scream franchise, a perfect example of a slasher, the usual targets are teens who drink, have sex, or indulge in other PG-13 activities. This isn’t the kind of movie that stays with you forever, and they don’t usually have underlying themes; they just give us viewers an opportunity to yell at the screen and shake your head at the horrible decisions made by the main characters (going into a dark room alone when you know a killer is on the loose, etc.).

Which is more popular?

Although I personally prefer slasher films, their brutality and mindlessness do not seem very popular among my classmates. The chart above shows this: slasher movies are rated incredibly low. According to an Eagle Rock student, “It’s more interesting to me that someone is able to get into someone's mind and drive them insane than it is for someone to chop someone’s head off.” This is repeated by many of my other peers, all saying the same variation of that - slasher is too gory, it’s less stimulating and too brainless, etc. Regarding psychological films, tenth grader Maggie says it best: “They’re objectively scarier and that’s super fun.”

Before writing this article, I hadn’t watched a horror movie in my life, and, even though I don’t think I can be considered a horror expert after just a couple of weeks, I urge all of you readers to follow in my footsteps. Maybe start with a less intense psychological, like Get Out, and eventually work your way up to something like Hereditary or Us. For some good slashers, I suggest the Halloween movies, Scream, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Happy Death Day. Have fun, and don't scream too loud!

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Reda Rountree
Reda Rountree
Oct 29, 2022

The perfect write-up for Halloween! Love this! I’m a big fan of these movie suggestions…especially since the Juniors vs. Seniors Halloween skit had an Us vs. Coraline theme. Love the art with this article ❤️🎃🎃

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