Horror movies and the cognitive ecology of primary metaphors

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14 Citations (Scopus)


Horror movies consistently reflect metaphorical associations between verticality and affect, as well as between brightness and affect. For example, bad events happen when movie characters are going downwards, or when lights go off. Monsters and villains emerge from below and from the darkness. And protagonists get lost and stuck in dark underground caves, dungeons, tunnels, mines, bunkers or sewers. Even movies that are primarily set above ground or in bright light have the most suspenseful scenes happening beneath the ground and in the dark. An analysis of several horror movies highlights the striking consistency with which the two metaphors “EVIL IS DOWN” and “EVIL IS DARK” are used within this genre. I will argue that these metaphors help in creating fear. Moreover, I will outline how cinematic manifestations of metaphor elaborate and extend metaphorical concepts and ultimately may have a formative role in keeping metaphors alive within a culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-170
Number of pages170
JournalMetaphor and Symbol
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2014


  • horror movies
  • film analysis
  • film
  • movie
  • horror
  • metaphor
  • primary metaphors


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