Difference Between Horror and Thriller

Difference Between Horror and Thriller

Horror and thriller are two literary genres that seem to be rather similar. Both genres deal with danger, fights, and deaths. The story lines include characters who are fighting against an evil force. Both genres are able to keep the audience on the edge of their seats. Since there are some similarities between these two genres, many people use the terms horror and thriller interchangeably. However, it is important to note that there is a distinct difference between horror and thriller. The main difference between horror and thriller can be described through their purpose; horrors are meant to horrify whereas thrillers are meant to thrill the audience.

What is Horror

A horror is a literary genre concerned with arousing feelings of horror. The main intention of a horror movie is to create dread, fear, disgust, and terror. Horror fiction usually centers on the arrival of an evil force, or person into an everyday world. Horror movies or fictions often feature a lot of supernatural elements such as ghosts, monsters, zombies, vampires, demons, and other supernatural creatures as the antagonist. Cannibals, psychopaths, and serial killers are also popular villains in the horror genre. The setting and background have an eerie and frightening atmosphere. Horror films, one of the most popular categories of the horror genre, often involves a large amount of violence and gore. Horror genre often overlaps into other genres such as supernatural, thriller and science fiction.

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890), and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and the works of Sheridan Le Fanu are some examples of early horror fiction.Difference Between Horror and Thriller

What is Thriller

Thriller is a genre with an exciting plot that often involves mystery and crime. Thrillers are capable of creating a sense of suspense, surprise, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety. Therefore, they are capable of keeping the audience on the edge of their seats as the story builds up towards the climax.  The sense of mystery and secrecy is a common element in a thriller. Suspense is one of the most important features of a thriller. Literary devices like plot twists, red herrings, and cliffhangers are used extensively to create this effect.

The villain plays a crucial role in the plot; it is the villain who presents the obstacle that the hero or protagonist must overcome. Thrillers often portray ordinary characters dealing with situations that could happen in real life. (when compared to horror genre)Main Difference - Horror vs Thriller

Difference Between Horror and Thriller


Horror fictions are meant to terrify the audience.

Thriller fictions are meant to thrill the audience.

Emotions Created

Horror fiction creates dread, fear, disgust, and terror.

Thrillers create suspense, excitement, surprise, anticipation and anxiety.


Horror genre features ghosts, zombies, demons, monsters, vampires, etc. as the antagonist.

Thrillers feature criminals, evil men, and women as the antagonists.

Supernatural Elements

Horror genre has more supernatural elements than thriller genre.

Thriller genre has less supernatural elements than horror genre.


Horror fictions create an eerie and frightening atmosphere.

Thrillers create an atmosphere of menace and sudden violence.


Horror genre is not as realistic as thrillers.

Thrillers are more plausible and realistic than horror.Difference Between Horror and Thriller - infographic

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