Will Science Kill Off the Horror Movie?
You may be thinking that horror is here to stay. You might be thinking that, deep down inside, people are just pre-wired to fear loss. And after all, horror is all based on fear. Fear, on the other hand, is based on the sense or the risk of loss. So, since you think that people will always be in danger of losing something, horror will always be a valid and effective art form.
Well, you might want to think twice. Seriously. Because science, depending on your politics and depending on your experience, can be argued to have killed off religion. Seriously. Because for the longest time, religion was so powerful because it explained life.
Now, there are two levels of explanation. You can explain what, when, how, and where. Religion used to do that, but science has taken its place.
We now know that when lightning comes out of the sky, it's not because Zeus or Jupiter threw that lightning down. It's because of the charged electrons in the water molecules in the air colliding. This, in turn, is made possible because of the collision between hot and cold air.
We know this. We can measure it. We can make predictions out of this. We can slice and dice this information. So the explanatory nature of religion, as far as natural phenomena are concerned, is under attack. Or, depending on where you stand on this issue, is already concluded. Science won.
There is, however, another level of explanation where things are not quite clear cut. This involves the question "Why?"
Sure, science can do a good job describing what, when, how and where. It can describe process. Awesome. It can reduce everything into equations. Beautiful. But can it explain why? And this is where religion, emotions, philosophy and the human condition are still putting up a fight.
So in the whole concept of loss and fear, which are of course the cornerstones of the typical horror movie, the argument could be made that science has not killed off the horror movie.
While we know that, scientifically speaking, there can be zombies, this doesn't necessarily mean that you should expect zombies and not be afraid of them. While it's technically true that there are certain combustion possibilities where people can just blow up due to chemical interaction, this doesn't necessarily mean that you have no business being surprised when that happens.
So science still has a long way in killing off the horror movie because, ultimately, it boils down to psychological habits. Let me tell you, I can explain gravity to you and hand you a parachute. I can break down everything to an equation, but let me tell you, you would still hang on for dear life when you get pushed out of that plane with a parachute on your back. You would probably be saying a million prayers before the parachute even opens. Old habits die hard.