Targets: Horror Movies in the Age of Mass Shootings

Like many Americans, I began this October indulging in Halloween traditions, including a marathon in which I watch a horror movie every day of the month.

Like most Americans, and people all over the world, I also began this October in mourning, shocked by the news that gunman Stephen Paddock killed 59 Las Vegas concert attendees and wounded hundreds more.

This month, in the wake of such a horrific event, in a country in which such attacks are growing increasingly common, the question is unavoidable: Why choose to watch terrible or scary things on a movie screen when we see them all over the news? What’s the point of horror movies when the world seems filled with unavoidable horror?

It’s a fair question—even a necessary one. But I do think such films serve a purpose, for many fans. Especially in times like these, in which fear and violence have become ...