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Crawl: Why Animal Horror Movies are so Scary

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Small town critic
July 18, 2019

The new horror flick Crawl came out in theaters this past weekend.  It is the story of a young woman who is trying to save her dad from a Category Five hurricane.  In the midst of this already challenging event, they are also faced with a bunch of alligators whose aim is to make them their next meal.  When I heard the synopsis for this movie I was all in--horror movies featuring menacing animals are among my favorite types of horror movies.  


Horror movies featuring animals are some of the scariest horror movies. They prey on the deficiencies that we humans have, compared to top apex predators.


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Kaya Scodelario as Haley Keller in 'Crawl' - in theaters now


Jaws reminded us that no matter how good a swimmer we are, we are no match for a huge great white shark with rows and rows of razor-sharp teeth. This movie was so scary for me that I never wanted to swim the backstroke ever again, even in an indoor pool.


The Grey reminded us how poor our hearing, sense of smell, and night vision are, compared to wolves--the fierce ancestors of our favorite family pet, the dog.


Speaking of dogs, who could forget Cujo and the carnage he left in his wake!  In each of these animal horror movies, we are reminded time and time again that we live in a world where there are animals that are stronger, faster, and bigger than we are. 


Besides highlighting our physical deficiencies, horror movies featuring animals also are scary because animals are a part of our daily lives, and we have grown to expect them to act in a certain way.  Horror movies scare us because they turn our normal everyday routines upside down.


Have you ever gone to a zoo and wondered what would happen if a lion or elephant escaped their cage? Have you ever been greeted with a deer running across the highway at night?  Has your cat or dog ever lashed out at you or a family member for no reason?


The truth is that animals can be very unpredictable.


Horror movies featuring animals are also scary because of the physical arsenal they have at their disposal, namely claws and teeth. Being attacked by an animal is a very intimate encounter--they’re right up on you. Often times there is no time to dodge or even react. It’s likely we’ve all been stung, bitten, kicked, or slashed at by an animal at some point in our lives. Just consider all the headlines in the news that cover humans’ close encounters with wildlife.


So what about you? Do horror movies featuring animals scare you?  Is there another type of horror that scares you more? What is your favorite type of animal horror movie? Is there one you wish they would make?  


Share your thoughts in the comments below!


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