Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Modern Horror Film Soap Box

I admit, I'm a Halloween scrooge.

Last year I complained about dressing up young children and pets and the cruelty that entailed.

This year I would like to complain about Horror films.

Whether it's for the low cost of horror film mixed with the decreasing intelligence of those with disposable income, horror films are a good bet for profitability.

In fact, there's films like this years Paranormal Activity, compared to 1999's Blair Witch Project for it's low budget and incredible theatrical success that spells out P-R-O-F-I-T. And lots of it.

Horror films rarely cross the 100 million domestic gross line, but they don't need to. The cast and corn-syrup blood budget is low.

Horror movies have been around for awhile, but the pure explosion of new horror films being released month after month seems like pure insanity.

Are American teens so numb that they need to find such an extreme emotional experience in films that deal with brutal death, torture, and deep irrational fear?

This years been filled with horror flicks with relative success...My Bloody Valentine 3-D, The Haunting in Connecticut, Friday the 13th, The Final Destination, The Unborn, and Orphan. Not to mention Saw 42 or whatever number they are on. The list could go on.

And so when Halloween comes around people want a scary movie. Hello, there has been scary movies all year long. This is not just a Halloween phenomenon.

So if scary movies were ever intriguing to me, they seem like utter trash now. I have a hard time getting into the excitement behind success of small horror films, because you make a thousand small horror films a few seem like they're going to make it.

You've heard it said it takes 10 compliments to take away 1 mean remark. Well even if you argue for any redemptive moment in any of these films, there is far too many dark and unredemptive images, ideas, and scenes to even begin to justify the one message that some of these films may have.

So if you're watching some modern slasher horror this Halloween, go for it. I might consider something smart not gory, like Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? or Pyscho. But as for me - this year I'm hardly even interested in a horror film, the genre is exploding in all the wrong ways.
(Picture above from 2008 Saw V)


Tucker said...

"Are American teens so numb that they need to find such an extreme emotional experience in films that deal with brutal death, torture, and deep irrational fear?"

I fear the answer is yes. I think this trend has been increasing steadily since the 1950s.

RC said...

@ Tucker - thanks for your affirmation - I honestly can't think of any reason why this is what they're choosing to see on the big screen unless nothing else quite hits the "entertainment-nerve" than the extreme far reaching emotions of horror.

Amy said...

I hate a lot of the kind of horror films you mention that degrade women, show lots of blood and guts, etc. But I do like's just a matter of separating them out. Whatever Happened to Baby Jane, is, after A Thief in the Night, the scariest movie of my life because I watched it when I so young!

For me, the appeal of that kind of movie is the way it unsettles you, the trick it plays on your mind and perceptions you have.

But I don't discount all of one genre even if the majority are terrible.

Loren Eaton said...

Unfortunately, today's Hollywood seems to conflate the broader horror genre with slasher flicks. Only the two aren't the same. The former can be quite intelligent; see The Addiction. The latter rarely are.

Anthony said...

You hit this one right on the head. I couldn't have said it better myself.
(I did however have to delete my previous comment because of a spelling mistake)

Michael Parsons said...

I agree. A film like 'Drag Me to Hell' was a bunch of fun, and extremely silly whilst being disgusting.

Recently saw 'Paranormal Activity' (original ending and all) and thought it highly entertaining and with scares that linger on.

Blood can be used to horrific effect, but what films like 'Saw' depict is far more disturbing, they make the killer clever, almost something to look up to, to aspire to.

Give me things that go bump in the night over torture porn any day.

Have not seen one of those since watching 'The Hills Have Eyes' and turning it off during the rape scene.
Somethings are horrific enough without having to be in a horror film.

Anonymous said...

I have never, even been in to horror films. I find them to be dull and so far removed from reality that they are never scary. It is a genre that I have just never had an interest in and will never understand the fascination with.