Halloween is almost here, which means many people will soon be looking for a slasher film or a cult horror classic to watch after Trick or Treating has ended. Scary or violent movies sometimes get a bad rap, as critics say they could encourage violence among impressionable youth, but new research suggests that slasher films may actually have the opposite effect on crime.
According to research by two economists, violent crime rates actually decrease when people check out a horror film. For their research, Gordon Dahl and Stephano Della Vigna studied blockbuster movie releases and crime data across the United States for more than a decade. What they found was that for every million people who viewed a violent film on a given day, violent crime decreased across the nation by 1.2 percent.
For example, the movie “Happy Death Day” recently opened to the tune of 4 million tickets sold during opening weekend. Researchers believe this played a role in deterring nearly 1,000 assaults over that same weekend.
Why The Decrease?
The pair of researchers had a number of reasons why an increase in violent movie attendance was linked to a decrease in violent crime. For starters, there’s the obvious suggestion that doing one activity means you can’t be doing another activity. If you’re at a movie theater, you’re not getting in a fight at the bar. Researchers said that people who may otherwise commit crimes are drawn to movie theaters when violent movies are released, so they aren’t available to commit crimes elsewhere.
Additionally, researchers found that violent film attendance led to a particularly large decrease in assaults involving alcohol or drugs, and this was even more noticeable in potential offenders just above the legal drinking age. This suggests that violent films may help prevent crime by reducing potential criminals’ alcohol consumption, since most theaters don’t serve alcohol.
However, researchers noted that the effects of violent movies on crime rates were short-lived, and crime rates returned to their normal levels within three weeks.
So the next time you’re watching Freddy vs. Jason or hoping that this time Michael Myers will actually be dead, know that by watching that film, you’re doing your part to reduce violent crime in your community. Have a safe and Happy Halloween, and if you or someone you know ends up in the sticky situation, make sure your first call is to Appelman Law Firm. We’ll be answering our phones all through the night, so you’ll talk to a real person no matter when you call. You can reach us at (952) 224-2277.