When you think of horror movies and mental health, these two terms usually don’t work in harmony. Those who are mentally ill are typically the bad guys, and there isn’t much commentary on actual mental health issues humans face.
While horror movies aren’t realistic, we do enjoy a good movie that can explore real mental health issues that we may face. Here are some movies that explore mental health in a subtle way.
The Shining and Isolation
Stanley Kubrick’s masterpiece, The Shining, is a movie that is still discussed, analyzed, and beloved four decades later. One interesting theme in it that is more relevant than ever is isolation.
As you probably know, the Torrance family stays in the Overlook Hotel in the winter, and they must isolate there. The father, Jack Torrance, is doing it for a job, but he also is running away from his own problems. He spends his time in isolation away from his family, with his demons taking over, as well as the ghosts of the hotel.
We all know how this movie ends. He goes on an ax spree, then gets frozen in a maze. This is, of course, a hyperbolic ending to what isolating yourself away from people will do to you. However, as you’re stuck in a house, it teaches you that being with your friends and family is important.
The Babadook is About Dealing With Grief
If you’ve seen The Babadook, you know it’s about a children’s monster come to life, and a widow and her son must defeat it. However, it’s also a good movie about grief and depression. She can’t sleep and is in denial about her mental health. When one deals with grief, they are often in denial, which this movie represents well. The more she struggles, the more powerful the Babadook gets. In real life, denying your grief isn’t going to make a monster get you, but it can put you deeper into despair.
Nightmare on Elm Street 2 is About Being in the Closet’s Effects
Nightmare on Elm Street is a series that makes you not want to sleep again. In fact, the entire series could be an entire metaphor for insomnia or night terrors. However, the second movie is quite interesting in mental health.
Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy’s Revenge is definitely a black sheep. It’s a movie that’s in-between two acclaimed entries, with the third movie seeming more like a sequel than the first. However, Freddy’s Revenge has had a cult following due to its homoerotic subtexts.
The film stars Jesse Walsh, who is a closeted gay man. In the 1980s, there was much more of a stigma towards being gay, especially during the AIDS epidemic. In the movie, Freddy represents the fears he feels coming out of the closet. For many people who can’t be who they want to be, their fears of coming out can feel like a demon holding you back.
While it may not be the most popular, it is one of the most interesting films in the franchise.
Halloween 2018 is About Seeking Help from Your Loved Ones
Halloween (2018) was praised for being a return to form for the franchise. While they can be fun slasher films, this series is usually not the best representation of mental health, but the 2018 film had an interesting take on why you should seek help.
Laurie Strode has been preparing for Michael Myers’s return, and she does it without the help of anyone else. She feels distant from her family to the point that her self-reliance is her detriment. While it’s good to rely on yourself, seeking help from those you love is also something you should pursue. In the end, Laurie defeats Michael Myers for good with the help of her family. At least until the sequel.
Most Horror Movies Deal With Anxiety
Most horror films, in their own special way, capture anxiety quite well. The suspense you feel when watching these movies can capture how an anxious person feels all the time. Their stress, fears, and racing thoughts can be like a monster who is out to get them. In some cases, anxiety is like the fake-out jump scare. The person fears something is going to get them, but instead it’s a cat or something else harmless.
In Fact, They Can Be Good for Your Mental Health
While they are associated with scaring you, horror movies may be good for one’s mental health. For one thing, they’re entertaining, and keeping yourself entertained is always a good way to boost your mental health. For another, they can help you conquer your fears.
What do we mean? When you see people defeating monsters and facing their fears, you may feel inspired to tackle your own fears. Your demons aren’t literal, but they are powerful, and when you see an ordinary person defeat a monster, it does feel inspiring.
While horror movies can be therapeutic to watch, if you feel stressed, anxious, or depressed, then you need to seek help from a therapist. Online therapy is a good solution when you can’t meet a therapist in-person. BetterHelp is your ticket for mental health. You can connect yourself to a therapist and get help on your own terms. There isn’t anything scary about seeking help. In fact, getting help is like the end of a horror movie, when the monster is finally defeated.
Marie Miguel Biography
Marie Miguel has been a writing and research expert for nearly a decade, covering a variety of health- related topics. Currently, she is contributing to the expansion and growth of a free online mental health resource with BetterHelp.com. With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.