Movies, United States, World

Horror Movies and the War on Terror

A girl wakes up with a bear trap covering her head connecting to her lower and upper jaw. She hears the timer ticking down. As a voice over an intercom says “Want to play a game.” We all have seen horror movies like this with their erie storytelling and disturbing images of terror done onto innocent civilians to create a cause. Seeing the bad guy succeed and good guy losing. Modern horror movies reflect to the war on terror based on their appeal to fear and the use of innocent civilian targets.

Many people were affected by the fear and civilian lives taken by a terrorist group named Al Qaeda.  It was on September 11, 2001 when the group flew planes into the twin towers and the pentagon killing 2,753 innocent Americans. This made many people mad and scared about our national security. George W. Bush then declared war against terrorism launching an operation called Iraq Freedom. Coalition forces (US, United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland) invaded Iraq taking over the capital Baghdad. This war is still fought thanks to the new group called Isis who took back the capital Baghdad. This happened because the US military was pulled back from Iraq military leaving Sunni officers out of work. These Sunni officers became mad and formed the group known as Isis. Isis gained a lot of influence with the support of social media influencing others to fight against the United States and their allies. This influence that Isis has is responsible for the shootings in Orlando Florida at a gay nightclub killing 49 and injuring 53 a shooting in San Bernardino California killing 14 and injuring 24, and the Boston Marathon killing 3 and injuring 264. Now Isis has been pushed back thanks to the Afghan and Iraq army pushing forward to retake their homeland. Unfortunately the war against terrorism has not ended especially with other groups still active today like the Taliban and Boko Haram.

How do horror movies create fear and use civilian targets to relate to the war on terror? We all have seen horror movies with a killer or ghost chasing a scared and screaming person down a hallway.

Whatever type of fear it is we have all become affected by it. “Neuroscientists have started studying people when they watch films, and filmmakers are consistently able to trigger similar emotional reactions in viewers, especially with scary movies.” (Loria, “How horror movies tap into primal fear instinct in your brain”).  According to Loria horror movies are able to create that real life fear. The crazy part is as technology gets better overtime movies will be able to affect those people even if they are not scared by horror movies right now.  “As filmmakers get a better understanding of the science and technology improves, this effect will get even more powerful.” (Loria, “How horror movies tap into primal fear instinct in your brain”). This means that filmmakers might even be able to simulate this real life fear in just a movie. Movies don’t just use fear to drive you into the box office but they also use innocent people. “Endangered children are one of society’s prime fears, and many a modern horror centres on either scared kids or scary kids ideally both” (Rose, “Innocence Lost: Stephen King’s It and the real life horror of kids in horror). According to Rose how horror movies are able to create that real life factor by using innocent civilians or in this case children to draw us in the movies creating that real life factor. Just like how terrorists groups kill innocent lives to make a message. Creating that fear people had experienced with the 9/11 attacks and the Boston Bombing.

A good example of a horror movie related to terrorism is the movie “It”. “It” released in September of 2017 is about a group of kids in a town try to fight a shapeshifting clown who hunts and kills little children. This Stephen King inspired film has shown how horror films can affect innocent people. “Actor Bill Skarsgård had a moment of clarity playing Pennywise, the scary clown in the new movie of Stephen King’s It, when he walked into a scene full of unsuspecting child extras. “Some of these kids got terrified and started to cry in the middle of the take, and then I realised, ‘Holy shit. What am I doing? … This is horrible.” (Rose, “Innocence Lost: Stephen King’s It and the real life horror of kids in horror”). This shows how horror movies use innocent civilians like children since they are more defenseless against this terror that scares them. Creating that suspense in movies knowing that something bad will happen to an innocent civilian. Another connection that the movie “It” makes is having a specific target. How pennywise the clown in the movie targets children. Terror groups target a specific group of people to create change by sending a message.

In conclusion, Horror movies can relate to the the war on terror we see today making connections to both fear and the use of innocent civilians. Movies like “It” use kids since they are harmless and can most likely be defenseless against a threat. Creating that real life fear or situation that a child or civilian could become injured or even killed. Knowing that fear exists and should be cautious at all times. Keep this in mind when you see an upcoming horror movie like Annihilation or Slenderman knowing why they are so popular thanks to the War on terror.

Article by Vincent Sinclair & Video by Grant Friesen

Works Cited

Griffiths, Mark. “Why Do We Like Watching Scary Films?” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 29 Oct. 2015,

“‘Mirroring Terror’: The Impact of 9/11 on Hollywood Cinema.” Imaginations, 11 Feb. 2016,

Loria, Kevin. “Horror Movies Tap into a Primal Fear Instinct in Your Brain.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 31 Oct. 2017,

Rose. “Innocence Lost: Stephen King’s It and the Real Life Horror of Kids in Horror.” The Guardian,

Comments are closed.