Push and Pull


In short, there appears to be something paradoxical about the horror genre. It obviously attracts consumers; but it seems to do so by means of the expressly repulsive. Furthermore, the horror genre gives every evidence of being pleasurable to its audience, but it does so by means of trafficking in the very sorts of things that cause disquiet, distress, and displeasure. So different ways of clarifying the question ‘Why horror?’ are to ask: ‘Why are horror audiences attracted by what, typically (in everyday life), should (and would) repel them?,’ or ‘How can horror audiences find pleasure in what by nature is distressful and unpleasant?’

— Noël Carroll, “Why Horror?” in Alex Neill and Aaron Ridley, eds., Arguing About Art, 1995