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Fans are wondering why horror is always wet, but not in the way you think

Horror films find plenty of ways to make viewers terrified, from sound to lighting, costumes to set design, but why do so many use wetness?

The Thing horror 1982
Photo via Universal Pictures

Horror films have many factors that contribute to the overall scariness of the movie. Sound is integral as it can build suspension, costumes for those terrifying monsters are also key, and lighting can help to evoke fear in moviegoers; but have you ever thought about how wetness can play a part in horror? Well, horror fans are now discussing just why so many horror villains and monsters constantly look wet.

A great horror film works on tapping into those human fears that are both conscious and unconscious, playing on our responses to things that have their origins way back in our evolution as a species. Many of us are afraid of the dark for the obvious reason, that we cannot see what is around us. Horror films often use negative space to make us feel uncomfortable, such as a lone swimmer in a vast ocean, the character looks small and vulnerable. Heck, sound design will also play with sounds that teeter on the edge of humans’ natural register, which can affect our body leaving us with chills or in some reported cases even causing people to faint.

Almost everything in a film is carefully selected to create an impression in the audience’s minds and in horror films, this is even more so, delving into human psychology to find things that will leave us feeling uncomfortable or downright terrified. So what does wetness have to do with this?

One movie lover asked the question on Reddit, with users taking a good stab at why this is.

This user puts forward that this “wetness” is also down to our biological responses, our fear of water and what might be lurking in it.

Another person puts forward another terrific hypothesis, that wetness on a body usually isn’t a signifier of good health, unless of course, you’ve taken a shower.

Many pointed to the practicalities of having things wet in the film, especially when it comes to making the prosthetics more believable.

It can also make things shine on camera, causing something to become apparent or stand out.

The glisten of a monsters claw as it emerges from the darkness certainly has a terrifying effect.

One user puts forward that it’s a pretty cheap solution to cover a lot of problems in filmmaking.

And another puts forward the novel idea that the sight of something wet or damp can lead us to associate a smell with that that we may not have done otherwise.

There are plenty of examples of horror movies that have utilized the wet look with terrifying results, though there are others that don’t. It’s interesting to really think about why this is and what our brains are telling us when we watch these nightmare-inducing films on the screen and the work that goes into terrifying the pants off of us.

Laura Pollacco
About the author

Laura Pollacco

Laura Pollacco is Freelance Writer at We Got This Covered and has been deep diving into entertainment news for almost a full year. After graduating with a degree in Fashion Photography from Falmouth University, Laura moved to Japan, then back to England, and now back to Japan. She doesn't watch as much anime as she would like but keeps up to date with all things Marvel and 'Lord of the Rings'. She also writes about Japanese culture for various Tokyo-based publications.