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The appeal of darkness

So often we are drawn to the darker side of life, a quick purview of most films coming out in the last 5 years tends to support this. Yet why is this?

Why are we so drawn to the dark, to the evil, to the bad?

Is it a desire to engage safely with taboos? Does this appeal to our baser natures that desire an interaction with danger and amoral ideas? Or simply do we want to watch safely from our seats the downfall of others?

There are obvious genre appeal in watching horror or thriller films, an aspect of the viewing is the narrative structure and the expectation of the horror themes. But what about drama or action or even romance films that are also engaging with these darker tones? Why is there a trend towards the macabre, the sinister and the frightening?
Consider ‘Coco’ a Pixar animation in the land of the dead, or ‘Three Billboards’ about the lack of progression in the investigation of the murder of a young girl, or even ‘I, Tonya’ with its brutal depiction of domestic violence, even the romance ‘The Shape of Water’ features a rather horrific villain.

  • Films that portray a darker side allow the audience to experience something dark and scary without actually having to physically live it or be harmed. Also, life itself can be very dark, imperfect, violent, and so on. Thus, sometimes the dark side of things can address certain issues present in modern society and be relatable to some viewers. Another way to look at this is that having darker tones in a film can instigate conflict and thus make stories more interesting. – jay 3 years ago
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  • The Movie, Priest (2011) or the way Gotham in any Batman movie is presented are dark cities. So the impression created adds to what viewers feel. – Joseph Cernik 3 years ago
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  • I think that it is largely a desire to engage with these rather frightening ideas while still remaining perfectly safe. These bad things are out there, and by engaging with them through fiction, we can learn about them and how they come about, as well as considering how we might deal with them if they impacted us, but don't have to worry about any real world consequences. In a similar vein, we get attached to villains we see in stories who reflect our darker impulses, but again, because they're not real, we can engage with and explore these darker thoughts we have without anyone getting hurt. – Debs 2 years ago
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