The Psychology Of Why We Like Horror Films

And the best ones to stream this Halloween...

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Confession: I watch the majority of horror films with fingers in my ears and my eyes firmly shut. If I'm at home I'll go to bathroom often, and continually look at my phone as a distraction.

In short - I do everything to avoid actually looking at the screen - all while continually chanting 'none of this is real' in my head. And yet if anyone suggests we watch a horror (watching solo is just sadistic) - I always say yes!

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In part this might be my bravado talking - the result of mean girls at sleepovers calling 'chicken' at any kid that wouldn't touch the Ouija board or take the church yard dare.

But in main, it's because I enjoy the self inflicted torture of fear; the speeding heart rate, the cold sweat, and mainly the immense relief when it's over and the lights go up.

I'm not alone - the horror genre has made over $8billion worldwide since 1995. With this year's box office hit Don't Breathe (a story of a gang of Detroit thieves who get trapped in a haunted house) bringing in $26.1 million and costing only half that to make.

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But what is it about them we like so much? The allure of controlled fear - that we have the power to switch it on and off with a hit of the remote, or it the extreme adrenaline rush – like the hit we get from extreme sports but from the comfort of the sofa.

Sharon Begley at The Daily Beast concludes in her piece 'Why Our Brains Love Horror Movies' that perhaps it's actually the sheer predictability of the genre that makes it so appealing. 'Horror films thus appeal to people who like predictability and neat ends…' she says 'in these movies, there is no question about who the bad guy is. And despite the high and often gory body count, the films tend to have a (relatively) happy ending.'

Whatever the reason, we're hooked - so here are some of my favourites for you to stream this Halloween (fingers in ears entirely optional).

1. The Craft

We'll ease you in gently with this classic 90s high school horror about three wannabe witches, who are seeking a fourth member for their rituals. Excellent fancy dress inspiration with Neve Campbell at her best.

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2. Wait Until Dark

A blind Audrey Hepburn manages to stop intruders by shutting off all the lights in her apartment—it is pitch black but you are really in her shoes, only able to decipher what is going on by listening to the men banging around the house trying to kill her.

3. The Shining

Who can resist Jack Nicholson - even if he is wielding an axe in an abandoned creepy hotel? And let's not even mention those creepy Grady Twins.

4. Ringu

The Japanese original version of the The Ring is so much more terrifying than the remake. Watching TV will never be the same again.

5. The Orphanage

This Spanish thriller set in a children's orphanage with a missing child and creepy spirits will have you checking you under stairs cupboard for weeks.

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