Horror Movie Renaissance: Why Horror Deserved a Comeback Horror Movie Renaissance: Why Horror Deserved a Comeback

05 Apr , 2019

In light of the recent release of Jordan Peele’s Us, I think we’re in the midst of a horror revival, and I think this time we’re going to have to take the genre seriously.

The horror genre still feels very niche, and it still sits somewhere between Oscars-worthy and in poor taste. I know a lot of people who just will not watch a horror movie, and I know other people who will, but they would never pay to see it in a theater.

I’m not completely sure why horror films still seem unworthy of our critical attention, but I think they are more than worthy, now more than ever.

What makes horror movies so unique?

 

If I made a list of what makes horror films different than other ‘mainstream’ genres, gore, violence, and fear would top of that list. But, really, are those qualities actually unique to the horror genre?

If we avoid horror movies because of the gross factor, why are we so devoted to Game of Thrones? It's insanely popular, and it boasts more gross-out moments than Scream! Django Unchained had as much blood as The Shining, and Django was nominated for an Oscar. If we’re trying to pretend that horror films are unworthy because of the gore, we’re kidding ourselves.

So, is the problem the violence? I can’t even entertain this theory. If we can’t tolerate violence, how have we tolerated every Quentin Tarantino films? Reservoir Dogs has one of the gnarliest scenes I’ve ever seen. If you’ve seen Reservoir Dogs, you know what I’m talking about. I think I could argue over 9000 different ways that we are not afraid of violence.

Then, we must be afraid of the fear factor, right? Horror movies can get your palms sweaty and your heart rate thumpin'. I’m going to call this one a falsehood, too. Netflix’s Black Mirror is crazy popular and that series affects me as much as Us did. Even The Handmaid’s Tale is considered a drama, but that series makes me jumpy and anxious more than any horror film I can think of.

The threat to normality

If it’s not gore, violence, or fear that creates an aversion to the horror film, maybe it’s the horror film formula. This isn’t an all-encompassing statement, but, generally speaking, the set up to a horror film is this: A monstrous threat to normality is introduced and must be vanquished in order to restore normality. Monstrous can mean anything from the killer in Scream to the doppelgangers in Us, but I think it’s the inherent threat to normality that makes us not appreciate this genre.

More than that, I think the horror genre itself is a threat to normality in filmmaking. Audiences and mainstream filmmakers alike have found much of the horror genre to be too much of a threat for as long as horror has existed. Even Tod Browning’s Freaks was so much of a threat that it was banned from certain theaters. studios even cut the movie’s runtime from 90 minutes down to 60 to remove disturbing scenes. The movie completely derailed Browning’s filmmaking career and the actors were treated as outcasts within the industry. I've seen the entire movie and there’s nothing in this movie truly that disturbing (it’s still a great watch, though).

A sort of moral panic in the 1930s encouraged Hollywood to install its own self-censoring system called the Hays Code. It effectively banned most kinds of “indecent” content. This prohibited films that already existed and put a chokehold on horror films that could be approved under the code. Concurrently, in the 1930s, the British Board of Film Censors created an “H” rating for horror movies, which resulted in banning Hollywood film’s that we consider classics, like Frankenstein (1931). British theaters closed off horror films.

As a result, a lot of filmmakers faded away, and so did horror films.

The threat to decency is a good thing

Horror films were driven out of Hollywood once already because they threatened what people thought was good moral taste. I think this is the best quality of the horror genre. These movies push the limit and ask questions we don’t always want to hear, but that’s a good thing for filmmaking of all genres.
Now horror films are making a massive comeback and this time it’s impossible to not take them seriously.

Next time you’re hesitant to see a horror movie in theaters, just remember that there really isn’t anything to be afraid of.

In light of the recent release of Jordan Peele’s Us, I think we’re in the midst of a horror revival, and I think this time we’re going to have to take the genre seriously.

The horror genre still feels very niche, and it still sits somewhere between Oscars-worthy and in poor taste. I know a lot of people who just will not watch a horror movie, and I know other people who will, but they would never pay to see it in a theater.

I’m not completely sure why horror films still seem unworthy of our critical attention, but I think they are more than worthy, now more than ever.

What makes horror movies so unique?

 

If I made a list of what makes horror films different than other ‘mainstream’ genres, gore, violence, and fear would top of that list. But, really, are those qualities actually unique to the horror genre?

If we avoid horror movies because of the gross factor, why are we so devoted to Game of Thrones? It's insanely popular, and it boasts more gross-out moments than Scream! Django Unchained had as much blood as The Shining, and Django was nominated for an Oscar. If we’re trying to pretend that horror films are unworthy because of the gore, we’re kidding ourselves.

So, is the problem the violence? I can’t even entertain this theory. If we can’t tolerate violence, how have we tolerated every Quentin Tarantino films? Reservoir Dogs has one of the gnarliest scenes I’ve ever seen. If you’ve seen Reservoir Dogs, you know what I’m talking about. I think I could argue over 9000 different ways that we are not afraid of violence.

Then, we must be afraid of the fear factor, right? Horror movies can get your palms sweaty and your heart rate thumpin'. I’m going to call this one a falsehood, too. Netflix’s Black Mirror is crazy popular and that series affects me as much as Us did. Even The Handmaid’s Tale is considered a drama, but that series makes me jumpy and anxious more than any horror film I can think of.

The threat to normality

If it’s not gore, violence, or fear that creates an aversion to the horror film, maybe it’s the horror film formula. This isn’t an all-encompassing statement, but, generally speaking, the set up to a horror film is this: A monstrous threat to normality is introduced and must be vanquished in order to restore normality. Monstrous can mean anything from the killer in Scream to the doppelgangers in Us, but I think it’s the inherent threat to normality that makes us not appreciate this genre.

More than that, I think the horror genre itself is a threat to normality in filmmaking. Audiences and mainstream filmmakers alike have found much of the horror genre to be too much of a threat for as long as horror has existed. Even Tod Browning’s Freaks was so much of a threat that it was banned from certain theaters. studios even cut the movie’s runtime from 90 minutes down to 60 to remove disturbing scenes. The movie completely derailed Browning’s filmmaking career and the actors were treated as outcasts within the industry. I've seen the entire movie and there’s nothing in this movie truly that disturbing (it’s still a great watch, though).

A sort of moral panic in the 1930s encouraged Hollywood to install its own self-censoring system called the Hays Code. It effectively banned most kinds of “indecent” content. This prohibited films that already existed and put a chokehold on horror films that could be approved under the code. Concurrently, in the 1930s, the British Board of Film Censors created an “H” rating for horror movies, which resulted in banning Hollywood film’s that we consider classics, like Frankenstein (1931). British theaters closed off horror films.

As a result, a lot of filmmakers faded away, and so did horror films.

The threat to decency is a good thing

Horror films were driven out of Hollywood once already because they threatened what people thought was good moral taste. I think this is the best quality of the horror genre. These movies push the limit and ask questions we don’t always want to hear, but that’s a good thing for filmmaking of all genres.
Now horror films are making a massive comeback and this time it’s impossible to not take them seriously.

Next time you’re hesitant to see a horror movie in theaters, just remember that there really isn’t anything to be afraid of.

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