University of Minnesota Associate Professor of Art History Robert Silberman explains why people pay big money to be scared. Silberman compares horror movies to a roller coaster at an amusement park. It allows us to experience the fear in a controlled situation, making it enjoyable instead of frightening. Horror films also contain a sexual element that draws in teenage audiences trying to understand their own sexuality. Take the current “Twilight” movie series about vampires, for example.
Whether it involves aliens, snakes or death, Silberman says a dark theater is the perfect place for people to experience their own dark fears without the fear of getting hurt.