ByJessica Gappa, writer at
Jessica Gappa

“Thriller” vs. “Horror” A Genre Story

This is horrorfan79 here with some philosophy to throw at you so locate the comment button and lets begin.

Recently, I was in a Facebook discussion about The Last House on the Left. Someone classified it as a “thriller” and not “horror”. I'm intrigued. One of the best topics thrown into a conversation I think I've seen in any of my horror groups so far. Though the jury is still out about Last House on the Left I expanded my thinking to include Alfred Hitchcock films. Are these films and those like them really horror after all?

I've searched in myself to find this answer, to find the separating factor between the two. The best I can do is come up with the chair test.

Thriller – While watching, you want to move forward toward the edge of your seat. You wish to see more, to move forward. I feel this classification is of a positive nature. You are excited to see what's next. I get a general sense of wanting good to triumph. You cheer for the good guy to endure and overcome obstacles to solve the crisis at hand. You do not fear what is coming next, you want it to happen.

Horror – While watching, you want to recoil in your chair, cover your eyes but peek through the separations in your fingers. You warn the heroin to stop, don't go any further. You sense danger around the corner. Like searching a room in the dark for the light switch, you are cautious as you progress but you progress all the same in search for the light. You have to suffer and dread through the situation in hopes to survive.

I think they can be summed up in the Fight or Flight response as well. Thriller = Fight and Horror = Flight.

I can go back and forth all day giving myself a migraine so I feel compelled to cop out and say movies can be both. This separates good, bad, and great movies. Though I put my love in a box labeled HORROR, it also captures all of it's little off-sets and sub genres. If a movie can be solidly labeled it has linear complexity, forgettable even. In conclusion, being ambiguous could be a discerning factor to a great movie. I must learn to accept this and move on. Sorry if I have left this discussion unresolved but that's philosophy at it's core, right?

If you wish to discuss this further, feel free to join me on my Facebook page, Horror rorroh.


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