The Psychology of Horror – How “Gremlins” can Help You Calm Your Mind

Horror movies can be fun. Around the holidays, we like to watch light-hearted films, of course, because we’re with our families. But, there’s something to be said for the dark films with witches and evil creatures. Gremlins is a perfect example of a scary movie that also is a lot of fun. It’s a mixture of cute characters (the Mogwai) and the evil Gremlins, who turn into creepy creatures after midnight. You have the light and the dark in this fun horror movie.

The cute Mogwai

Let’s face it; Mogwai are adorable. They look like little rambunctious guinea pigs. And they have that personality. That’s probably why Billy’s parents gave him one for Christmas. They figured it would make an excellent pet. Mogwai want to hang out with their owners, do cute things like coo, and talk to their guardians. The Mogwai have an indecipherable language that humans find entertaining, including one of their owners: Billy. Little does Billy know that the adorable little Mogwai is about to turn into something much more heinous, an evil gremlin.

The evils gremlins

Maybe gremlins are misunderstood. Perhaps they get a bad rap for being mean and scary, but we love them. Why? Because they cater to a secret dark, mischievous side that we all have. They are the alter ego of the Mogwai, the antithesis of cute. Watching their antics helps calm your mind, because they’re like the Freud’s Id, they do what they want. They don’t have concern for other people’s feelings. They’re silly and mean, and they embrace their personalities unabashedly. Watching these fellows do their thing makes us feel like we can be ourselves. We don’t have to put on airs and please our in-laws or our creepy uncle who nobody likes. The gremlins do what you wish you could do, but don’t have the guts to put out there.


It’s like the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. The psychology of Gremlins is that we have the inner troublemaker that we can’t seem to let out to play. But we want to badly. It’s difficult to reconcile that with the Mogwai, who is the people pleaser. They want to appease grandma and your annoying cousin who won’t stop talking. We each have a mogwai and a gremlin within us, and it’s about trying to balance those two creatures so we can be emotionally regulated. It’s hard being a person, especially when there are monsters inside of you.


Watch Gremlins and release your inner trickster

Watching Gremlins with your family could be a lot of fun around the holidays. You can laugh at the antics of the evil little guys playing the piano and eating gingerbread cookies, putting themselves in the mixer, and fighting with Billy’s mom as she defends herself with cooking spray. She fights back pretty hard by trying to microwave one of them. When watching the mother protect herself against a gremlin who is trying to destroy her hard work, you feel a sense of power vicariously through her. A cathartic release is vital for us as human beings. We have our ways of expressing emotions whether it’s through film or therapy. If you’re struggling with emotional expression, you may be wondering, “How can I find a therapist near me?” You can, and you will. The gremlins would be proud of you for confronting your hidden darker sides, and the Mogwai will be happy that you’re helping yourself get well.


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 With an interest and dedication to addressing stigmas associated with mental health, she continues to specifically target subjects related to anxiety and depression.