HOLLYWOOD─I recently read a story that revealed fans of horror films are better prepared for outbreaks, pandemics and utter chaos that we only imagine can happen in the movies, but it feels like we’re living in a pandemic right now. Let’s be clear, this is not “Night of the Living Dead” or some zombie apocalypse, but we are dealing with a crisis people, rather you want to acknowledge it or not, that is another tale.
With that said, I have been an avid fan of horror since I was a kid. I really cannot tell you where my love for horror films originated, but all I can say is that the more you tell a kid they cannot watch something the more fascinated they are with wanting to watch it.
What is it about horror that fascinates people of the genre? I know some would argue it’s the violence. No, I’ve never been a fan of the violence and let me let you in on a little secret: I hate the violence in horror, so much to the point that I rarely watch 80s horror. Yes, that was the decade that birthed and killed the genre because we were introduced to the subcategory of slasher films.
Slasher films can only be described in one word in my opinion: dreadful. Why? There is no plot, just a bunch of teens or college students being dispatched in the most gruesome and despicable ways possible, by some maniac wielding a tool best used for building or cutting something. How Hollywood thought this would be a money maker I will never know, but enough said.
Horror is NOT about violence, it’s about adrenaline. In my honest opinion, the best horror finds a way to make the audience either invested in the protagonist or the story. Some of you might be asking why not the villain because it’s impossible to identify with the villain when you barely know anything about them to begin with. With that said a fascinating horror movie relies on character development and a mesmerizing a story; something original that we’ve not seen countless times before in the genre. Yes, that is hard to do when the genre has been killed to death in most cases.
Some people don’t understand that horror works best with simplicity, but simplicity is the hardest thing to do because we tend to overthink it. “Halloween,” “Alien,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Friday the 13th,” “Hellraiser,” “Scream,” “The Ring,” “The Conjuring,” “Don’t Breathe,” “It (2017)” and “A Quiet Place” to name a few had unique stories. They didn’t rely on a motif that a predecessor used to draw in the audience. It was more about the story than the body count or the weaponry used.
So what makes horror so identifiable for some people? Well I think we like to place ourselves in those predicaments. What would we do or how would we react if we were in that situation or movie? Where would we run? Where would we hide? Would we fight? Who would we call? Who would we suspect? I think exceptional horror gets a viewer to think of those questions. This is NOT to say these things could transpire in real life, but you can be placed in a life or death situation, where using your brains comes front and center. Not panicking and having a strong head on your shoulders could help you get out of a dicey situation.
Some would argue horror teaches or at least prepares us to have a sharp mind and not to react just to react without considering the pros and the cons of a particular situation that might be unfolding right in front of our eyes. If you hear a strange sound in your house and you KNOW you’re the only one home, do you go investigate or leave the premises as soon as possible? All valid questions that you don’t see posed in dramas, comedies, animated flicks and sci-fi films in most cases.
As much as I like a good horror film, I’m not someone who can sit and watch it all day or 24/7. Yes, I’ve heard of actual streaming services dedicated to such fanfare and while I think it is absolutely ludicrous to each is their own. All I’m saying is not to fully knock horror. There are various subsets of the genre that are actually intelligent and superior films that don’t always get the credit they deserve. However, if you are indeed thinking of the 80s, think again because about 90 percent of the horror films made in that decade are not only dreadful, but leaves you scratching your head wonder, “Who in the hell thought this would be a good movie?”