I’m a horror movie nut. But I realize that if you aren’t a part of the community, it looks like all the best films are thirty or forty years old. Because they are. Horror went in waves, from comedic gory slasher films, to CGI Asian ghost films, to really explicit Gallic films and so on. In America, it was about sequels. It made more sense in studio’s minds to put out SAW 200, than to invest in distributing a new, risky film. But that’s not how films work. Eventually you milk a franchise until there’s nothing, and that’s where we are.
But the honest truth is that some great films have come out in the last five years. I can’t remember this much well written material in some time, but people aren’t getting exposed to it. The problem is, the new horror is too horrible.
What do I call horror?
I don’t care about gore, for the most part. Gore was a tool that was originally supposed to repulse the audience, but when slasher distillations introduced one-dimensional characters whose only job was to get naked and then get ripped apart, gore didn’t horrify anymore, in fact a great deal of more vocal fans get off on it.
I don’t care for computer effects, because the moment they’re on the screen I see audiences visibly relax. They know that we’re no longer dealing in reality. I don’t like movies that take too long to catch up to their audience.
If you’re watching the Spiderman reboot for instance, you know that a kid gets bit and becomes a superhero. If that takes an hour, than that’s an hour you’re bored waiting for what you know has to happen. Horror movies, ideally work on the opposite principle.
A well written film should have characters you care about, situations you wouldn’t want to be in, and a plot that intrigues you. One of the greatest moments in horror to me, is the chestbuster scene from Alien. After being attacked on the spaceship, John Hurt’s character is laughing and joking in the cafeteria. We don’t know that the Alien is a parasite. We don’t know what’s happening. Suddenly, in a moment of explicit horror, the creature rips out of his chest, causing chaos. There’s blood, confusion, and thirty odd years later, it still has an impact.
I have ten films (maybe?) that are horrible. Enjoy.
(P.S., there will be some spoilers.)