"That movie wasn't scary."
We have certainly all heard (and most likely said) that one before. It comes with the territory of horror films. Perspective and beliefs certainly play a substantial role in the impact a movie can have - especially in this genre.
Let's face it, many horrors just won't scare you.
The biggest factor that can influence your perception of a horror is the environment you watched it in. Sure, you have the right to be upset if you weren't sent running for the covers after watching 'The Strangers', but if it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon and you watched it with 12 friends - that one is on you.
Of all the genres, horror is the most influenced by the viewing environment. To get a true perception of a horror film you have to be in the right mind set. Often times you won't know the impact of a movie until you are diving for your covers doing your best Muhammad Ali impression after turning off the lights.
Working as a night auditor at a local resort I truly felt the impact viewing environment can have. I was left all by myself with only the monotonous lobby music to keep me company. When it is that quiet, the little sounds begin to stick out. The odd creaks and bangs. The fax machine randomly kicking on at four in the morning. This was my absolute favorite environment to experience any horror film. This was the true test.
Some horror just won't scare you, but if you find the right environment you will be running for the covers far more often.