Horror might be good for us?

Mathias Clasen, PhD, is associate professor of literature and media at the department of English and is director of the world's only research center dedicated to the scientific investigation of recreational fear, Recreational Fear Lab (www.fear.au.dk) at Aarhus University in Denmark. He is an expert on horror media and the psychology of recreational fear. During this year’s festival he will give an entertaining and informative lecture on why horror might be good for us. 

Horror films are more popular than ever, with hundreds of new releases every year, including an increasing number of scary films that has achieved commercial as well as artistic success. However, the genre is often stigmatized and accoiciated with “cheap entertainment”, or as “unmoral and sadistic garbage”. Meanwhile, new research shows the many positive effects of watching horror cinema.

In this lecture, Clasen will introduce the new science of recreational fear.  He and his team of colleagues has uncovered the psychoclogical resistance associated with horror films. It seems that the films in the genre has a connective effect, and may help us improve dealing with stress and fear. It may even be good for children to dabble in milder forms of horror.  In strong contrast to the critical suspicion that horror is “empty of thought”, or as pychological and morally hurtful entertainment, the genre seems now to be an important tool that may give meaningful and engaging experiences that we can use to improve our ways of handling the challenges we meet in the daily life.

 Clasen has been featured in several publications such as the New York Times, BBC and National Geographic, and has published books such as Why Horror seduces and A Very Nervous Person's Guide to Horror Movies.

Photo portrait: AU Communication
Photo-zombie: Simon Jeppesen 

31. august 2023
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