Horror will always be my favorite movie genre. We all have our emotional scars from horror movies, mostly from when we were young and watching movies from a slit in our blankets.
There were those scenes or images that were wonderfully burned into our brain for the rest of our life. But does that opportunity even exist anymore?
Can you think of how many of the 2,000 or so horror movies released since the 90’s, have had that same effect? A Handful? Why is that?
Does that mean that the expectancy of walking into a special effects extravaganza-type horror movie doesn’t allow anything to stick? Or do recent horror movies just fail?
Is it because we’ve seen everything there is to be seen? Is it because we live in a “DVD Behind the Scenes Documentary” culture, that we know how they have achieved everything?
I have met people who have been more emotionally scarred by things that they have seen in non-horror movies (Ex: Large Marge in Pee Wees Big Adventure, the baby in Trainspotting, or the ‘firecracker’ scene in Boogie Nights.) than movies like Hostel or My Bloody Valentine 3D.
Arguably, the only way to successfully ‘SCARE’ the audience is to make them feel like it could happen to them, or … do something they are not expecting.
When The Exorcist came out, people were actually having heart attacks in the theatre because of the intensity of the content. No one had ever experienced “Pure Evil” in that way. Billy Graham was quoted as saying that evil lived in the ‘very celluloid’ the movie was filmed on.
When The Texas Chainsaw Massacre came out, the guerilla style filmmaking, the “true story” sizzle at the beginning, and the decision to not cast stars, but seemingly ACTUAL murderers had people wondering if they were watching a snuff film. The same effect happened with The Blair Witch Project. The budget was so small, and it didn’t seem Hollywood produced. You really didn’t know if they were acting or really being picked off. When Blair Witch hit, it felt like the genre had a savior.
But, can horror survive now without a gimmick attached?
Blair Witch hit at the perfect time. It was the dawn of the “everyone’s got a camera” age, and it scared people to death. Since then, we’ve had Paranormal Activity, Incident at Lake County, The Last Broadcast, Jersey Devil, Quarantine, Diary of the Dead, and Cloverfield. This “real-life, for really reals, shaky cam” genre can’t last in the ‘Information Age.” I saw the actors from Paranormal Activity on the cover of Entertainment Weekly before I saw the movie. How do you sell “This could REALLY happen to you!” after that?
We had the “Avid fart” trend in horror where ghosts would move fast, then speed up really fast and then slow down. That lasted about 9 movies too many.
What does that leave us with? 3D? Stuff flying at your face will make you blink, perhaps jump. But what could possibly scare us to the core of our being. What can make a dark horror movie more than just “cool” to 14 year olds, but rather make them not want to sleep at night?
How do we fix the genre? Discuss.
– Voodrew the MoGhoul