Should we jump at Horror or is the genre dead?

Written by Film

Are Horror films really worth your time? Finbar Oliver and Jaymelouise Hudspith discuss.

Pro-horror: Finbar Oliver

Horror films are a much maligned artform, so much so that in singing their praises it often feels like you’re coming to their defence, rather than celebrating their merits.

In my mind, that’s a shame – some of the most interesting and entertaining films in recent years have been firmly rooted in the macabre. We’ve got a few months left, but so far 2017’s track record illustrates this claim. Big budget box-office smash hit, proving that scares still sell in an age of real-life horror, Get Out reminded a new generation that the genre is still (and always has been) political, and titles like The Love Witch and Prevenge continue to push the indie-horror boat out.

So why do filmmakers and audiences continue to sneer at horror as a less valid cinematic form?

One criticism of the horror film lies in the belief that they are uninspired, exploitative and derivative of whichever breakthrough genre film came out the previous year. True, many are similar, yet therein lies the comfort; the predictability of the form gives the benefit of appeasing fans with familiar stories and tropes, and ensures that curveball titles which reinvent these familiar subjects come as a pleasant surprise. Recent titles like Raw, Bone Tomahawk, It Follows and Under the Skin reanimate much-loved styles, demonstrating the genre’s ability to shape-shift through the ebb and flow of different generations of filmmakers.

While none can deny that horror has given us some stinkers, don’t let this detract from the stand-out voices in the genre. From David Cronenberg’s sci-fi splat to John Carpenter’s iconic scores, Tobe Hooper’s D.I.Y American nightmares to Dario Argento’s technicolour surrealism, horror has (and continues to) shock, surprise and satisfy audiences eager for audio-visual exhilaration.

Anti-horror: Jaymelouise Hudspith

Whether you love them or you hate them, you cannot deny that modern horror films are rubbish.  Are we to blame? As a society are we so used to horror and gore that what we see in films no longer affects us like it used to, but are the production companies to blame for simply making bad films?

I blame two main things: jump scares, and bad marketing.

So many times, I’ve watched a film just to find out that I saw all of the best bits in the trailer and wasted the last 120 minutes watching nothing but filler. This is because of poorly executed marketing and horror trailers are notorious for doing this. It’s all to do with the marketing of the film, creating an expectation it can’t live up to.

The other issue is jump scares. Rather than finding a way to actually terrify me, horror films opt for the easy option of a jump scare; startling me when someone jumps out shouting boo isn’t the same as genuinely scaring me. Yes, my heart may race for 10 seconds but I don’t go home afraid like I would afraid of some killer lurking in the dark to stab me like a pin cushion.

Whenever a new horror film comes out, I pray it’ll scare me, that I’ll feel the adrenaline rush as my heart races rather than sitting trying not to laugh at how cringe worthy the special effects are or how ludicrous the plot is.

Last modified: 27th October 2017

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