No movie genre divides Americans the way horror does.

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No movie genre divides Americans the way horror does: One in four people love it, and the proportions of likes, dislikes and dislikes are roughly the same, according to a recent YouGov poll, which asked a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adult US citizens to rank 10 movie genres. More than twice as many people hate the genre as do the other nine respondents. But people who like horror are more likely to say they like it than fans of other genres surveyed.

Americans who grew up in the peak horror period of the 1980s – or just before or after – are among the most die-hard fans of the genre. The most favorite way to watch horror is at night and with other people. But that shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish for horror fans, most of whom say they share their love of the genre with a partner or parent – or both.

The poll asked Americans whether they liked, liked, disliked or hated 10 genres. Of these, horror has the lowest number of people who collectively like or like it (49%) as well as the highest share of people who either hate or dislike it (45%). And people who don’t like horror really don’t like it: More than twice as many Americans (23%) say they hate horror than the most hated genres, each hated by 9% of Americans: western, science fiction and romance. At the same time, horror fans tend to love it. A larger share of horror fans – people who love or love horror – say they enjoy the genre than any other genre. Another way to look at it: nearly half of Americans either love or hate horror, more than any of the other nine polled.

Who are the biggest horror fans? Age is divisive: The genre is most popular among people between the ages of 30 and 44, many of whom are said to have grown up in the 1980s and early 1990s, a time considered by many to be the height of American horror. Twice as many people in this age group (64%) like or like the genre as hate or dislike it (33%). Americans 65 or older are the least likely to be horror fans: only 26% say they enjoy it, compared to 66% who don’t.

Unlike true crime, which a recent YouGov poll revealed was loved by a greater proportion of women than men, gender is less of a divider when it comes to horror. Men (52%) are more likely than women (46%) to say they like or like it and less likely to say they hate it (19% vs. 27%). Education is also linked to views on horror: people with only a high school education or less are nearly three times more likely than people with a college degree to enjoy horror .

Horror movies aren’t known for getting rave reviews from critics: According to an analysis of reviews on the Metacritic site, horror movies receive the lowest average rating out of 10 genres analyzed. While this could be seen as proof by horror fans that the genre is underrated, Americans broadly disagree: only 18% think horror movies are underrated by critics , while 26% think they are fairly rated and 26% think they are overrated. The only genre that a greater proportion of people consider overrated is romance (30% say it is overrated).

Horror fans, on the other hand, are much more likely to believe that critics underestimate the genre (37%) than they overestimate it (15%). People who simply like horror but don’t say they like it are also more likely to think it’s underrated (24%) than overrated (17%).

As the horror genre has evolved over time, various subgenres have had their ups and downs in popularity. Of the 10 horror subgenres surveyed, three stand out as loved or enjoyed by most Americans: 55% say they enjoy psychological horror, 55% comedic horror, and 52% paranormal horror. After these three films in popularity, we find horror films with vampires (50% appreciate), monsters (47%) and witchcraft (46%).

Among the least popular horror subgenres are demonic possession (38%), slasher (36%) and gore (35%). The smallest share of Americans (35%) say they enjoy found horror movies, though that’s partly because a large portion of people (28%) haven’t heard of the subgenre .

One difference between Americans in general and horror enthusiasts is their classification of the comic horror subgenre. Among Americans overall, it ranks first in the 10 subgenre rankings, but among hardcore horror fans, it ranks second to last.

Another common debate among genre fans is between old-school and new-school horror. When asked for their opinion, Americans are more likely to say they prefer classic horror movies (32%) to new movies (21%). Half of people (48%) say they have no preference between the two. Horror fans are evenly split: 27% prefer classic films and 23% prefer new ones. Among people who do not like the genre, they are much more likely to prefer the classics (48%) than to favor the new ones (14%).

Love them or hate them, horror movies get a strong reaction from most Americans. In a previous poll, we asked people to tell us in their own words why they like or dislike horror movies. Based on these responses, we developed a list of 10 feelings horror might evoke and asked Americans who have experience watching horror to select as many as they feel to apply.

Compared to people who dislike horror, fans of the genre are more likely to say that horror movies fill them with suspense (56%), thrill them (37%) or give them a rush. adrenaline (31%). People who dislike horror, on the other hand, are more likely to say that horror movies bother them (40%), make them anxious (36%) or make them feel uncomfortable (33%). ). Whether people love or hate the genre, few people say it bores them.

What is the ideal setting for watching a horror movie? For many Americans, it’s the same time of day that horror movies frequently take place: at night. Twice as many Americans say they prefer watching horror movies at night (44%) than during the day (18%). While horror fans particularly enjoy nighttime viewing, those who dislike the genre are evenly split: 34% prefer watching it at night and 36% prefer watching it during the day.

If they have to deal with thrills and frights, most people prefer to do so in the company of other people. Two to one, Americans say they prefer watching horror movies together (46%) rather than alone (21%). People who say they dislike horror are particularly likely to prefer the company when watching it. Even though most Americans would rather not watch horror alone, a majority of people — including fans and non-fans alike — say they’d rather watch at home (64%) than in a theater full of people. (22%).

Most horror fans are lucky when it comes to finding a viewing partner: 65% of people who love or love the genre say they have a partner or parent who also loves or loves horror. Three in five horror fans with a spouse or romantic partner (60%) say their partner is also a fan, while one in four (26%) say their partner doesn’t like horror. The opposite is true for people who dislike horror movies and have a partner: 60% say their partner shares their dislike, while 30% say their partner is a fan.

There is also a correlation between a person’s preference for horror and that of their parents. Of genre fans who don’t say a question about either parent doesn’t apply to them, 40% say their mom loves it too and 41% say their dad loves it too. love. Of people who dislike horror and don’t select “Not Applicable” for each family member, 72% say their mom doesn’t like it either, and 60% say their dad doesn’t. do not like. Fewer are aware of their father’s view of horror than their mother’s.

Respondents also perceive their parents as having similar preferences when it comes to horror: 63% of people who say their father likes horror say the same about their mother.

— Carl Bialik, Allen Houston and Linley Sanders contributed to this article.

This survey was conducted October 12-14, 2022 among 1,000 adult US citizens. Learn more about the methodology and data of this survey.

Image: Adobe Stock (Maksym Yemelyanov)

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