Film is one approach we might take to digest the angst we feel in the presence of an unraveling mind. While not all films exploring mental dis-ease need invoke abject terror, this feeling can, at times, seem unavoidable. Perhaps it is schadenfreude that draws us viewers into stories such as these. Perhaps pity overcomes us as we perceive such pitiable situations on the screen. “There, but for the grace of god go I,” we say to ourselves.
Excitement, too, may underlie this playful gazing into the deep, dark chasm. It may be ghastly to immerse ourselves in these films, but at least the pain subsides when the film reaches the credits. We came, we saw, we made it out of the theater.
Or perhaps, despite the adventitious, confusing, and potentially mortifying experience of witnessing a mental backslide, there exists a place where any one of us viewers can feel at home.