Sensory Impacts of Film Essay Example


Film has the visual and audible powers to produce a sensory effect on the viewer that no other work of art can produce. Majority of meanings in film are projected visually and sometimes dialogue or characterization also communicate meaning. According to Rainer et al (2012) movies communicate through emotions and are thus likely to trigger emotional release instead of suppression of feelings. The sensory impact of film is dependent on the Genre of the film; the sensory impact of comedy is very different from the sensory impact of Horror films.

In films people are not only seeing the visual images on the screen, they are also immersed in the virtual and unique environment created by the film. Both the mind and the senses are engaged by the film unconsciously.


Horror films scare viewers and cause Cortisone and Adrenaline levels to spike (Ndalianis, 2012). This can be termed as sensation of fear and sometimes it causes the brain to bring up repressed traumatic memories (Ndalianis, 2012). Horror movies have the ability to bring up scary memories that a person is not even aware he has. Scary movies make a person feel as they are reliving a terrifying event that they had undergone in the past. Scary movies can create a sensation of fear well after the person has stopped watching. During the movie a person usually flinches and cringes as he watches scary scenes. During horrifying scenes even a slight touch from other members of the audience will make a person jump or scream.

While the sensation of fear created by horror movies fades with time it can stay for some time. The sensation of fear experienced after watching horror films has been known to cause restlessness and sleeplessness (Ndalianis, 2012). A person imagines the horrifying scenes in the film that prevent them from sleeping. For example, a horrifying creature or face from a film may haunt people at sleep time.

The sensation of fear is a common hangover of watching horror films. After watching horror movies people sense fear in dark and isolated places. Horror movies cause the belief that something is lurking in the dark (Ndalianis, 2012). In most movies when a person is walking in a dark place they are met by horrifying creatures. Similarly, viewers mind are conditioned to believe that horrifying creatures are lurking in the darkness. The emotion of fear is thus triggered whenever we are walking in dark tunnel, in an unlit room or in the basement. However with time this conditioned response eventually dies out.

On the other hand, comedies and happier film lead to sensation of elation and happiness (Rainer et al, 2012). Once a person watches really funny films they are left feeling happier and elated. The happy films dredge happy memories from the brain and leave the person feeling pleased.


Today film technology is moving towards ensuring that our sensations are heightened while watching. We feel like we are part of the movie and our bodies and minds are affected. We must be aware of the sensory impact of the film we choose to watch as sometimes we may be left with an irrational sensation of fear or happiness.


Rainer, B., Waltl, M., Cheng, E., Shujau, M., Timmerer, C., Davis, S. & Hellwagner, H. (2012, July). Investigating the impact of sensory effects on the quality of experience and emotional response in web videos. In Quality of Multimedia Experience (QoMEX), 2012 Fourth International Workshop on (pp. 278-283). IEEE.

Ndalianis, A. (2012). The Horror Sensorium: Media and the Senses. McFarland.