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Scientists have tried to figure out the appeal of axe murderers and creepy dolls, but it mostly remains a spooky mystery.
Earlier this year, the horror movie genre was pronounced dead. None of the six horror films released before September managed to break $20 million on opening weekend at the box office, and none ended up earning over $32 million total domestically. The ruling was dramatic and preemptive, of course—full of the same kind of foolishness that makes it possible to say things like “Nobody wants to see movies with women in them”—but still, horror filmmakers and fans alike were worried. It’s doubtful anyone truly believed the genre wouldn’t eventually bounce back, but peak scary movie season comes just once a year.
And then there was Annabelle, the spinoff from last year’s The Conjuring. Critics thought it might break 2014’s horror slump, but the film far exceeded those expectations: It earned $37 million on opening weekend, a higher draw than any horror movie in years, and one of the largest openings for a horror movie ever.