Not everyone loves horror. That’s ok. However, I believe most of the people who think they don’t would be pleasantly surprised if they were presented with the right material. Over the course of my life, I’ve introduced many people to the genre. There’s a right way and wrong way to do it. This guide is based on my own experiences and I hope it helps you convert some naysayers into genre fans.
Step 1: Why?
The first thing you have to ask yourself is why do I want to do this? Most people want to share something they enjoy with the people they love. Such a thing is only natural and doing it the right way can be a real bonding experience.
However, if you’re doing it just to make someone squirm for your own pleasure, you might end up causing mental or emotional trauma or make them relive past traumas. There’s some insane shit out there and there is such a thing as too much too soon.
By its very nature, horror is about confronting things we don’t want to feel. Not everyone is going to be comfortable in that space. People can have very violent reactions, especially if their flight or fight responses are triggered. Others might have objections for moral or religious reasons. Try not to force these things as it will end up becoming a damaging experience for you and your horror novice.
Step 2: Finding The Right Medium
Horror exists in all types of media. There’s more than just movies out there. If your horror novice enjoys a particular media style more so than others, start with that. Movies, podcasts, Youtube videos, books, comic books, audio books, tv shows, video games, pen and paper RPGs; there’s a wealth of material out there just waiting to be found.
Step 3: The Less Extreme, The Better
Starting with an oppressively violent or emotionally heavy movie is not the smart way to go. Watching something like Hostel or Martyrs right out the gate might be a huge turn-off. First impressions are huge so its best to go with a reliable choice that isn’t going to overwhelm. While it’s also tempting to share the material we love most first, you have to acknowledge the fact that it might not be the best fit for your horror novice.
Step 4: Talk About Their Fears
Talking about what we fear can be a really intimate and bonding experience, but it also helps us figure out what we shouldn’t confront our horror novice with. My mom hates clowns, bastardized religious imagery, and serial killers. My stepsister hates spiders. I’m not going to show my mom 2017’s IT or The Strangers. I’m not going to show my stepsister Arachnophobia.
Horror can be a great tool for overcoming fear, but that person has to know what they’re getting themselves into and there must also be a way out. That means if my stepsister wants to try and watch the freaky spider movie and she doesn’t want to do it anymore once we’re five minutes in, I’m going to respect her wishes and turn off the movie. It’s that simple.
Step 5: Blending Genres
If your horror novice has a particular affinity for another genre, find something that blends that genre with horror. If my horror novice is into fantasy, we can try watching Pan’s Labyrinth. Horror also doesn’t always have to be serious. There’s lots of things that are accesible for kids or horror comedies to lighten the mood for adults. In this way, we can stack the cards in horror’s favor and turn someone into a lifelong fan.
These are just some of my own tips, but if you have some knowledge or an experience with converting someone to horror, feel free to share it in the comments below!