As the weather begins to drop and that slight chill slowly starts to form into the frigidly temps of winter so does the spirit of Halloween grocery stores,banks,and i’m sure your local movie theater brings the festivities with old classics like Psycho and Nightmare on Elm street retroactively playing on halloween night or some Fathom event will be showing a “horror classic” to get everyone in there nostalgic feels for the best holiday of the year (and yes it is the best holiday of the year).
People have a knack to assimilate the idea that good horror movies died in the 80s and everything that gets released now is nothing but fake out jump scares and found footage movies and for the most part they would be right, horror and even thriller has fallen into the category for most studios as a small cash grab movies like “the paranormal activity” and “saw” are very cheap to make and even a 30 to 40 million dollar overhaul doubles the money a studio can get which means they can crank out one every year and make the quality and feel all the same since they don’t need a lot of people to see them. I mean from a business standpoint it sounds good right? but then you tarnish what the genre of horror really is and it sours many away from wanting to be apart of it. but as of late (the last few years to be just vaguely specific) horror has gotten a leg up in a big way movies like IT and Annabelle have grossed huge numbers in the box office so much so that It has grossed at 650 million worldwide and still has some staying power in theaters and even Annabelle pulled in 303 million in the middle of summer not to mention the rest of the conjuring of movies has vastly doubled there budget. But money isnt a guarantee that a movie is great but the content and aging process is important which leads me to ask is the horror genre better than ever?
Two years ago I saw a movie named the VVitch( yes that’s how you spell it) and I was blown away by its slow and quiet tension building technique very minimal jump scares and use of shots that would either linger on something and then black out to the next scene, but when a actual scare would happen it would not be kind to the human eye when the movie was over however and the house lights came on everyone immediately filed out of the theater with a barrage of groans and boos and couldn’t help but wonder why? even earlier this year a movie named “It comes at night” which comes from the same studio A24 which had the same tone was also meet with the same reaction though both movies were critical hits it’s possible that trying new things with the horror and thriller side of things are what we need as a audience who knows in a few years or possibly another decade or two it might amass the audience that it deserved much like The Shining did.
The arthouse horror side of things may not grab everyone’s attention but if your a fan of slasher and gory theatrics there have been more than plenty to pick from in the last few years one that immediately comes to mind is Trick r’ treat a movie based off of evil spirits roaming the streets of a small town on halloween night. It’s a clever movie that has a impressive amount of practical effects lots of fake blood and make up that homages back to the days when guys like Sam Raimi and George A. Romero would make brilliant movies on minor budgets. The slasher sub-genre has gotten many new looks one movie to use as a example is a movie named Happy Death Day that takes slasher flick and gives it a comedic upside are the things that gives horror a fresh take and keep things feeling new. Of course that doesn’t mean every horror movie being released today is the greatest thing to grace the silver screen without fail it seems like every january and even february there’s still that horror movie that just awkwardly gets placed in the isolated schedule with all the oscar winners that get a brief re release and some blockbuster movies that are well into their second month, movies like The Boy,The Forest, The Darkness…you know what? if you see a movie that’s released in january and it starts with “the” just go ahead and just give it a pass.
Which still leaves to question, Are horror movies better than ever? Were living in a time where social media controls everything. Sites like Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic can show you whether a movie is worth seeing even before your any where near a theater it also disciplines the cash grab mentality that many studios have been too dependent on. Bringing in talented writers and directors to make original concepts is the answer that all horror fans want a new alternative look into creating a frightening experience which also leads to creating a new rotation of guys who can carry a bigger role. David F. Sandberg,James Gunn, and even James Wann all got their names by writing and creating either short horror movies and soon were given a shot at main stream success Sandberg got his short “Lights Out” turned into a feature length movie, Gunn is credited with writing movies like Dawn of the dead,Belko Experiment,and Slither which soon transitioned into him being given the keys to the Marvel comic/movie series Guardians of the Galaxy and Wann who is responsible for Insidious,Saw, and The Conjuring franchise soon got to direct Fast and Furious movie which also holds the record for the highest grossing one of the series. Finding the right up and coming directors in the horror community is the best option considering it does take a high level of understanding and skill to pull off one that works. This is without a doubt the most creative time for horror sub-genres have been created and it makes for a much memorable time in the cinema, however to compare today’s horror to the horror of yesteryear all depends on one thing…Time. Yes the way a movie ages and stays relevant is the most important thing when asking a question like this when you observe classics such as Nightmare on Elm street or Friday the 13th they have gained popularity over time and have remained a staple to the tradition of watching movies on halloween night and it’s very possible for anyone who is growing up in the 21st century that todays horror could be the classics that live on for decades to come.