Movies about tormented souls of the dead, sanity-jeopardizing visions of terror, and toddler-sized dolls that seemingly come to life will have moviegoers throwing up their hands in horror in 2016. But beware the lurking health effects of those fright-filled flicks.
The term “bloodcurdling” may have come about with good reason, according to a recent study.
After watching “Insidious,” the story of a comatose child lured by spirits, distressed viewers had increased levels of a blood-clotting protein linked to deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Severely low levels are linked to hemophilia. It's not as ghastly as it sounds though, the study authors suggested. There is at least one potential evolutionary benefit—“preparing the body for blood loss during life-threatening situations.” The findings were published in the Christmas edition of the BMJ.
Researchers from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands recruited 24 volunteers age 30 and younger for the experiment. Fourteen watched the horror film first, followed by a “nonthreatening” educational movie a week later. The other 10 watched the same films in reverse order. Blood samples were taken before and after each movie.
While blood-clotting protein levels rose in 57% of the participants during the scary movie, it only did so in 14% during the educational one. Protein levels also dropped in most people during the educational film, but they dropped in fewer than half of participants screening the horror movie. Ultimately, none of these bloodcurdling experiences resulted in blood-clotting conditions for viewers. “The effect of acute fear on the coagulation system is still to be unraveled,” the authors noted.
In the meantime, thrill-seekers can enjoy getting themselves safely terrified in the twisted plots of the more than 60 horror films expected to be released this year.
Just sit back … and scream.