Why are we afraid of dolls?
The best horror movies tap into our fears. One guaranteed way is to simply show a doll.
We all have things from horror movies that scare us. For some, it's a killer in a mask. For others, it's the Joker. Some might say it's creepy kids, creatures or demons that keep them up at night. What we can probably all agree on, though, is that there's nothing scarier in the movies than a doll. They always have been, but why?
Some of the scariest scenes in history revolve around dolls. Chucky became an icon for how creepy he looked in Child's Play. Annabelle is a household name for The Conjuring and its spinoff films, but she never even moves. M3GAN is sure to be a hit, as she looks unsettling in the trailer. This is not a new phenomenon. The 1945 horror anthology "Dead of Night" has been terrifying moviegoers for nearly 8 years, thanks to the "ventriloquist dummy" segment, in which a dummy named Hugo may or may not be alive not alive. Then there's the chatty Tina in the 1963 Twilight episode titled "Living Doll."
A horror movie doesn't even have to be about dolls to leave a mark. just a cameo or Very few short scenes will do. Do you forget the clown doll from Poltergeist or Billy the puppet riding a tricycle from Saw? One look at them and we recoiled in fear.
Our Brains Are Wired to Fear Dolls
A lot of fear comes from the way our brains are wired. We can't help it. It's hard to deal with babyface because it looks real, but it's not. "Our brains are programmed to read facial expressions to pick up vital information about intentions, emotions, and potential threats," writes Linda Rodriguez McRobbie in Smithsonian Magazine road. "No matter how much we know that dolls are (probably) not a threat, seeing a face that looks human but isn't shakes our most basic human instincts."
Knox College psychologist Frank McAndrew ) wrote a paper on it, saying: "We shouldn't be afraid of a small piece of plastic, but it's sending a social signal. It's not human, so we don't know how to respond, just like when we don't know if there is danger." , don't know how to deal with it...the world has no such thing as dolls as we evolve the way we process information."
So, according to McAndrew, if dolls Having always existed in their current reality, our evolution has long since adapted them, but now our collective brain cannot comprehend them. Seeing something that looks humanoid but doesn't have humanlike skin, move or breathe like a human puts us on high alert for threats, even when we personally know we have nothing to fear.
Have you ever walked in Go past someone's house and see dolls on display on their shelves or lined up on their beds? These dolls are not in the movie. No haunting score, no villains, no dire threats, but we're still scared anyway. Something so lifelike is not believable because our brains must tell us that something goes against how living things are supposed to look in nature. There's no reason it shouldn't come back to life and kill us.
The Threat Goes Beyond Dolls
The threat of our inability to deal with lifelike faces is not limited to dolls. Remember how many people got spooked by the Polar Express? We might have known a scene was just Tom Hanks with a different animation on his face, but he Seeming so real yet unreal, his waxy detail turned some people off.
This is also why we get scared by clowns. Clowns are supposed to be a source of joy, but long before Stephen King scared everyone to death with Pennywise in IT, people thought well-meaning clowns were creepy. The paint on their faces distorts the features of the people below, awakening the flying part of our brains that tells us this is a threat.
We Can't Process It, So We Become Scared of It
Same goes for the masked killer. If Nick Castle was just walking around on Halloween 1978 and killing people without a mask on, it wouldn't work. How many slasher movies with an unmasked killer do the trick? not much. But the moment Nick Cassel slid William Shatner's pale mask over his face, he changed, because suddenly his new face came to life, but distorted . We can't handle it, so we fear it. The movie wouldn't work if Michael Myers walked around wearing a giant green alien head. Our brains automatically tell us it's not true and there's nothing to be afraid of. A motionless white face, but a different story. It is no different from a lifelike, motionless baby face.
There is even a phobia called automatophobia, which is a fear of objects that look like humans: robots, wax figures, statues, etc. Would you like to spend the night alone in a wax museum? Probably not. For some, the fear of dolls is so great that it even has its own subcategory of automatic phobia called pedophilia. It may be irrational, but for people with these phobias, it's just their brain taking the fear we all carry together to the next level.
Perhaps We Could Have Evolved Past This Fear
Maybe at some point, we could have gotten rid of our fear of inanimate humanoids, but it certainly won't happen now. Once Hollywood figured out this ingrained fear that humans harbor, they capitalized on it. If most people are already terrified of dolls, this makes their job easier and provides them with a regular audience for anything they can think of.
Surprisingly, Hollywood didn't make as much of it as you might imagine until recent decades. Sure, there was The Dead of Night and The Twilight Saga, but the whole 1970s wasn't much Other important examples outside of the "Amelia" segment of the 1975 horror trilogy, in which a tiny Zuni doll comes to life and attacks poor Karen Blake. There's also 1978's Conjuring with Anthony Hopkins, whose creepy-looking ventriloquist dummy Fats might be a real being with a mind of his own.
Perhaps no more attempts were made to exploit this fear, since the technology to make it a reality was not available at the time. After all, Hugo and Fatty, ventriloquist and chatty Tina don't really appear on screen. They might blink or move their heads, but the fear is left to our imaginations. While the Zulu doll might actually be lifelike in the horror trilogy, it's raw and doesn't have much emotion. We knew it was a guy directly below the camera pushing it around to make it look real.
'Child's Play' Changed Everything
1988's Child's Play changed everything, because here, everything we feared was shattered from our imaginations and literally played out before our eyes. As the great robot work unfolds, you see it when Chucky comes back to life. He moved. He has facial expressions. he's gone. he talked about. After that, never came back. The fear of dolls is ever present.
The avoidance of some of our social ills has been blamed on movies. Here, however, it's not an escape. You're afraid of dolls because the movies get you used to it. We may also be born with this fear, but humans have the opportunity to rise above it. For centuries, humans have transcended other collective fears. This won't be one of them. You don't see dolls in happy rom-coms and family-friendly movies. The place where the dolls are displayed is horrific. So, now, whenever we see a doll, our anxiety goes up immediately because we've been programmed to be afraid of them. Dolls are not toys that children cuddle and love. A doll is a humanoid creature that comes to life and hides in your closet or under your bed while you sleep. If you have one at home, it's probably looking at you right now, waiting.