Talk:Psychological horror

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Psychological Thriller vs. Psychological Horror vs. Horror-of-personality Genre[edit]

There is a redirection from Psychological thriller to Psychological horror. In all fairness, these are two very distinct and different genres. N3m6 18:53, 26 February 2006 (UTC)

I would have to agree. "Psychological Horror" and "Psychological Thriller" are very distinct with two totally different goals. This redirection should be removed and a seperate article be placed in. Schwenkstar 23:50, 15 May 2006 (UTC)

In seeing a fine distinction that seems missing from this article, I added a statement that "Psychological horror" is not the same as "Horror-of-personality sub-genre". Several other things bother me with the article as recently seen:

  • Though the article attempts to refrain from focus on the horror film, very few examples are novels or other media than film (the crossover between film and novel notwithstanding).
  • The cited examples tend to conflate another sub-genre (the horror of the demonic) with either psychological horror or horror-of-personality. For example, the following films/works are more reliant on demonic forces (also including supernatural with demonic) than psychologic: The Sixth Sense, The Blair Witch Project, and The Others. Anonother example cited, Hour of the Wolf, belongs more appropriately to the horror-of-armageddon sub-genre.

Tgkohn 02:45, 29 January 2007 (UTC)

Psycho (genre) vs. Psychological Horror[edit]

It seems to me that Psychological horror and Psycho (genre) are distinct, though they may sometimes overlap. The former can be supernatural, whereas the latter would rarely or perhaps never be so. The latter may be gory, whereas the former rarely is. Schizombie 21:48, 30 January 2006 (UTC)

Psycho (genre) and Psychological horror although similar sounding in name, refer to things that are very distinct from each-other, even if on rare occasions the genres may appear similar. The Psycho genre is based upon the mental state of at least one of the characters in the piece. The Psychological horror is aimed more at the psychological state of the viewer - aiming at fear caused by the audience's reaction to the material. The Psycho film would need to include one character at least who is supposed to be mentally ill, the psychological horror has no such constraints. --Deadestfish 23:57, 24 February 2006 (UTC)

Too much POV and OR, doesn't seem accurate[edit]

The introduction seems like it's riddled with POV statements. Shouldn't it say, for instance, that it's meant to be certain things, not that it is? Also, the idea that only a person who'd had an accident where they or a child of theirs had had boiling water fall on them would feel tense seeing a scene where a child was reaching for a boiling pot? Bull. Sheer bull. One need not have experienced something to feel scared for the sake of a character threatened with it - fear of the unknown is, for instance, very powerful and nearly universal; more solid fears are often, for that matter, irrational - what of the fear of spiders, for instance? Very few are poisonous enough to kill, and most people have never even been bitten by one, yet very many people suffer from arachnophobia. One need not have been trapped previously in a small, enclosed space to be claustrophobic, nor does anyone have to have come close to death to fear it.

Also, the "Key elements of horror" section is frequently blatant bull/OR, and I can think of examples that would undeniably be referred to as horror, but which do not fit all of them. The ARTICLE even contradicts one of them! The first couple are fine...

1. A highly improbably sequence of events, that usually begins in an ordinary situation.

OK, fair enough. I don't see a cite from anywhere, but I can't remember seeing any horror that didn't start with (or flashback to having started with) everything being OK or normal or whatever.

2. Main characters with whom one can identify.

Well, yes. In film, that's a requirement, otherwise you don't care if they die or not. BUT!

3. Lives of others depend on the success of the protagonist.

What? Um, ever heard of the Last girl theory? Sometimes the main concern of the audience IS the protagonist and not anyone else but.

4. The mood and setting are dark and/or foreboding.

Also uncited, but correct...

5. The plot contains frightening and unexpected elements.

...and same as above... BUT!

6. Violence (although in psychological horror violence is not necessary)

You say it's a "key" element in horror, and yet the entire article is about a subgenre of horror in which it isn't necessary? Um, what?

Also, I was under the impression that it was the fear/threat of violence or death that was more key. Not violence itself.

7. A third person perspective is used.

Like hell.

First - It says "horror" not "horror film." Many horror video games are written in second person.

Second - I've seen plenty of horror on TV where it was narrated by the protagonist.

8. A plain style of cinematography is used.

Another one I'm tempted to call "bull" on. Although I have seen plenty of reviews where the "honest" or "immediate" camerawork added to the realism and suspension of disbelief, (for instance, 28 Days Later's mostly-digital camerawork), nowhere have I ever seen this as a requirement for horror in general. Furthermore, "plain style" is not even defined here. You could define that as anything from the bare-bones documentary-esque digital style of 28 Days Later to "three cameras, crappy lighting." For instance, I'd hardly call the camerawork in The Twilight Zone consistently "plain". Some of it was very dark and moody - which is why I'm objecting to this entry in the list (which probably shouldn't be on this page, anyway, but...). Too vague. Also, "psychological horror" is not confined to film and television - video games exist in the genre (as noted in this very article!), and those have CGI! In fact, this article does not even refer only to filmed entertainment, so why is that in on the list here? It doesn't seem to belong. Runa27 23:01, 2 August 2006 (UTC)

|==86 "Key Elements of Horror"?== Thank you for the above, Runa. I've tried to do a little editing here and there on this page to make it a little more neutral and a little more formal, but yes, there is a ton of POV to be dealt with. The "Key Elements of Horror" are sheer personal interpretation/speculation. First of all, as they do not relate specifically to the sub-genre in question, if they are deemed valid, they would belong here or here. However, I don't believe that these "key elements" are objectively certifiable. I propose we give it about a week to see if a solid case can be made for their retention (they would still need to be fixed up, cited and made to sound a bit more "encyclopedic"). If not, I think we should remove them.Vafthrudnir 21:24, 5 August 2006 (UTC)

Agreed (and thanks for hopping over to my talk page! I frequently catch pages like this just as I'm going off to work or going home or being interupted and whatnot - as I recall, I was getting ready to go home and start dinner for the family right when I wrote that message above, so I was a bit rushed and couldn't take the time to fix the page much myself even though I felt it prudent to get a detailed note in about what I thought was questionable - and I only recently learned how to Watch a page, so that really helped to remind me I had been over here! ^_^ Thanks!). It may be possible to retitle that section, 86 the list, and replace it with say, a section called "Common elements in psychological horror," which would preferably not be a bulleted list (bulleted lists are easier, but paragraphs can give much more detail and look nicer, to be frank ~.^).
I ought to say right up front that I'm not normally much for horror (I'm too big a chicken to go into anything REALLY tense :P, though I'll admit to a fondness for the The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, especially the old black and white episodes of the former), so while I have a basic grasp of what the genre is, I don't know very much about its history or things like that (I just knew enough about writing and psychology and film/TV to know why certain statements in the article were silly, POV or flat-out wrong). I consider myself to be good at encyclopedic prose and NPOVing stuff, however, so I can still help with that and maybe organization. :)
Now, the "Why is it effective?" section could easily pass, however, with maybe just a little tweaking (which I'm not sure I'm qualified to do from what little active experience I have with the genre), and definitely a retitle. Heck, maybe just cutting the list out entirely and renaming the "Why is it effective?" section to "Common elements" might work. What do you think? Heck, how about moving the majority of the introduction (at least, the majority of the parts of it that aren't POV or flat-out wrong or misleading, anyway) down there, too? The introduction is a place for a basic statement or three about what it is - a very basic, general picture. So all of the detail in the intro should be moved down. How about I tweak the first paragraph a bit to give a general idea of the genre is, and leave the rest for you to sift through and move down at will? :)
...although I did cut out the following:
Psychology can be applied to the viewer either through subconsious of behaviorist perspectives. A subconscious approach would be to find a common phobia or point of underlying fear among a large spread of the population, and play upon this. For example, someone may have a subconscious reaction to an unstable vehicle, from possibly being in a car accident at an early age. This could be played upon by having someone driving hear an unusual noise, at which point anyone who might be repressing a memory of a car accident would feel uncomfortable. A behaviorist angle would be to have a boiling pot of water on the stove. A small child may reach up to pull it off, and the crowd would feel uneasy due to their memories of when either they or their child had such an accident.
...because it sounds mostly like original research. Now the "common phobia" type stuff may be able to be worked into another section below, but mostly, this section was... well, crap. I've already stated my reasons why it's crap, of course, but seeing it still there made me twitch, so I just went ahead and took it out. I'll leave you all to decide what to do with the rest of the intro, though. I've a feeling we should nix or completely reword the psychological thriller reference, if only because I have no bloody clue what point it's trying to make other than "they both have a lot of psychological manipulation, but, like, they're still totally different." :P But I'm not sure what to do with it, so I'll leave it in for now.
I'm also going to add some more stub tags as well, since this article is clearly about more than film. For instance, literature and games are both perhaps good stub categories, and is there a horror stub tag as well? I'll go hunt some up to tag it with. :) Runa27 21:45, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
Done! I changed the tag to "horror-stub" instead of "film-genre-stub" and redid the intro a little. Still needs some work, obviously, but it's a little more palatable now, right? :) Runa27 21:53, 7 August 2006 (UTC)
I'm working on a public computer and therefore haven't time to get into the meat of the above, but I'll give it more consideration when I have a little more time. Few quick notes:

I'd already driven myself nuts wondering what to do about the bits involving boiling pots. Rather liked your Gordian Knot solution. In the intro, I'd like to go back and add in the diction that this is "a term used to refer to a sub-genre of etc.". Important to remember that, like any genre distinction, there really isn't an "absolute form" of psychological horror (to be positively Platonic about it. "Psychological horror" is not an absolute quality of its being, but a manner in which people who follow this sort of thing tend to reference it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that we have no real concrete criterion, handed down by Ancient Authority, stating that a thing is or is not in this category; it's more of a semantic convention, and therefore its definition should take that into account, for to claim this as an absolute definition a priori is to have made an unverifiable claim. Did I stop making sense yet? Stephen King has quite a bit to say on this subject (in Danse Macabre), and I think that book would make a handy refence here, provided it was done with careful citations and caution that no copyright violations ensue. The "horror-stub" icon is adorable. Troubling, but adorable. The "Why Is It Effective?" section is in fact substantially my own re-writing of an earlier version titled "Why is it Scary?" Out of respect to the original contributor, I attempted to maintain the bulk of what the original attempted to express, albeit in a more formal tone. Must run immediately. More later.Vafthrudnir 22:18, 7 August 2006 (UTC)

I'd already driven myself nuts wondering what to do about the bits involving boiling pots. Rather liked your Gordian Knot solution.
Thanks. :) (By the way, the Gordian Knot page was really cool :D ).
In the intro, I'd like to go back and add in the diction that this is "a term used to refer to a sub-genre of etc.". Important to remember that, like any genre distinction, there really isn't an "absolute form" of psychological horror
OK, that sounds good. If you or someone else hasn't made that change by the time I'm finished responding here, I'll do it. :)
The "horror-stub" icon is adorable. Troubling, but adorable.
I know! Isn't it just? :D I feel like emailing all my friends and pointing them here just to look at the thing. I think it's my favorite Wikipedia stub icon ever. :)
Stephen King has quite a bit to say on this subject (in Danse Macabre), and I think that book would make a handy refence here, provided it was done with careful citations and caution that no copyright violations ensue.
If you think it's a good reference, then go ahead. ;) I don't have that one (I don't have very many of King's books at all, really, though I know he's a good writer), and I'm not sure how to do that kind of referencing yet (I'm still kinda new to Wikipedia ^_^), so it probably won't be me that does it. Stephen King is undoubtedly the most famous horror writer next to Edgar Allen Poe, so his take on it is certainly a good one to include. :)
The "Why Is It Effective?" section is in fact substantially my own re-writing of an earlier version titled "Why is it Scary?" Out of respect to the original contributor, I attempted to maintain the bulk of what the original attempted to express, albeit in a more formal tone.
Ah. *chuckle* I'm the same way - most of the time, I hate to completely delete something when someone's put so much work into it. I'm sure it can still be reworked into something good, it just needs some tweaks, a couple of additions, and a definite retitle. :) Runa27 18:17, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Oh, hell. No-one is defending said "Key Elements", so I have opted to go drastic and take the cut upon myself.Vafthrudnir 19:40, 12 August 2006 (UTC)

What Makes It Effective[edit]

   ...although I did cut out the following:

I went back into the section that Runa27 edited pretty heavily before (The one that said "Psychology can be applied to the viewer either through subconsious of behaviorist perspectives....) What remained still felt pretty original research/speculation, ie "Psychological horror plays more on the psyche than to the instinctual reaction to violence. By confusing and/or reaching the subconsious of the viewer, psychological horror is able to have a deeper effect that is more socially acceptable than a gory film, yet is also nearly universal in impact. This genre is similar to the psychological thriller in that it uses psychology, but in the psychological thriller, the psychology is often applied to a character as opposed to the viewer."

My reaction to that (with all due respect to the original writer) was Wha?

I don't think you can confuse the subconscious of the viewer--conscious is what you're aware of, subconscious usually means preconscious (just below the surface) or unconscious (you're not aware of it at all)-- I think s/he meant unconscious. Anyway, you can't confuse it, as far as I know. You can be unhappy with what's in there, and be confused at the conscious level when information in your subconscious/unconscious conflicts with information in your consciousness--which makes you uncomfortable (ie creates cognitive dissonance), thereby forcing the ego to employ defense mechanisms to reduce dissonance between the two.

Psychological horror creates dissonance between what we want to believe we are and what we really are (Freud would have said we shove the things we can't stand to cope with about ourselves into the sub/unconscious; Jung would say we drive it into the shadow part oneself). Freud argued that material shoved into the unconscious had a strong effect on our behaviour, thoughts, feelings and that it bubbled up through dreams, wishes, etc. I'm not sure what he would have said about our draw to psychological horror--that the id is enticed by its true wishes while the superego struggles to force us to conform to the rules of society, which leaves the ego trying to reconcile them both with the reality principle? So maybe that the id is what pulls us toward it? I know Jung thought the draw was a need to individuate toward the Self.

Anyway, I rewrote most of that section using resources and citations. I left some of the stuff I disagreed with at the bottom because the person who wrote it may well have citations, so it seemed like the right thing to do to leave it for a while if that person wanted to add them. Obviously, I tagged it.

Katsesama 07:35, 7 January 2007 (UTC) link deletion earlier this week[edit]

FYI, I deleted the link to earlier this month as part of a spam cleanup of links. These were spammed by a "single-purpose editor", {{subst:User|]], making no other contributions to Wikipedia.

The link did not seem to meet the External Links Guideline -- the section "Links normally to be avoided":

"1. Any site that does not provide a unique resource beyond what the article would contain if it became a Featured article."
"3. Links mainly intended to promote a website."
"11. Links to blogs and personal webpages, except those written by a recognized authority."

--A. B. (talk) 20:15, 7 January 2007 (UTC)


isn't a Psychological horror —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:26, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

no, its a gore movie, it doesn't "plays" with your mind, although it has some deeper history, unlike other gore films —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:47, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Silent Hill[edit]

the movie is far from being psycological horror. The games, however, are extremly different from the movie: these last make you feel related with the main character in one way or another, making you feel much more than just the natural apathy we feel for seeing a girl in a fire (which is the thing the movie does). —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:53, 2 March 2010 (UTC)

Notable examples[edit]

{{In popular culture|date=January 2010}}

This list isn't well founded as example of 'notable' exmaples but contains too many minor examples. Moved to talk so we can select a smaller, better, selection. RJFJR (talk) 18:36, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Well-known examples of psychological horror films include:

About the list...[edit]

Whoever added Toy Story and Life of Brian, it was funny for a while... Skullbird11 (talk) 13:58, 15 November 2011 (UTC)