Entertainment & Media
The Trials and Tribulations of Modern Horror
By Alain Deen
Volume 3 Issue 1
November 7, 2022
Image provided by Den of Geek
Over time, horror has evolved to be one of the most revered genres of film of all time. From the earliest days of horror classics to the modern, brutal uprise of savage thrillers today, horror as a genre has simultaneously seen some of the worst and best films of all time. There are various sub-genres to horror, as it has branched out into many vessels. For instance, the earliest days of horror include Alfred Hitchcock’s psychological horror films. These films involve mental, emotional, and psychological states to frighten and unsettle audiences. For instance, Psycho and The Birds fit this description as they are two of the most well-known psychological horror films of our time. It is worth noting that psychological horror often overlaps with psychological thrillers, which are often more associated with mystery. What made Hitchcock’s films so unique was his elements of suspense, placing him into a category of his own in terms of horror.
Hitchcock’s influence is reflected in the darker themes of modern horror, which have had mixed reviews amongst audiences. Since then, horror films have become increasingly gory, savage, and gruesome. For instance, slasher films rose to prominence in the 1970s and 1980s, including cult classics Halloween (1978) and The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974). These films took a less psychological approach and involved abhorrent visuals and cheesy murder sequences to frighten audiences. Modern horror films often involve both aspects, like 2007’s breakout Paranormal Activity. More recently, however, the line between horror as an art form and horror as a money grab has grown exceedingly thin.
It is widely argued that modern horror movies pale in contrast to their predecessors for a variety of factors. Primarily, however, is the desire for profit. Most modern horror films seek to profit from merchandising, Halloween costumes, and other vessels of fan buzz. Additionally, it is worth noting that films produced today tend to boast the latest technological advancements to bolster the theatrical elements in a more realistic fashion, which does not resonate well with viewers. In other words, most horror lovers prefer gut-wrenching horror produced by practical effects as it is perceived as the most authentic.
In terms of modern horror, innovative technology presents exceedingly realistic gore, monsters, and supernatural figures by way of special effects. As mentioned earlier, modern horror is widely contested amongst audiences and film critics alike. This highlights the fickle nature of the horror genre, as it seems to be a case of nostalgia overriding rationality. For example, the setting of 70s and 80s horror films alone contributes to their acclamation. Middle-aged adults exhibit exceeding levels of nostalgia when watching the fashion within these films, along with the funky scores of the late 20th century. However, it must be noted that the 2000s have seen some intriguing, suspense-filled horror films such as Us (2019) and Get Out (2017) These films reflect a more subtle form of horror. In contrast to 20th classics, modern horror films feature diverse films with complex and nuanced plots. This sharpens the edge between horror and reality, leaving viewers at the edge of their seats.
In regards of modern horror tribulations, reboots tend to tarnish the reputation of once revered classics, namely the Halloween franchise. For instance, 2021’s Halloween Kills received lackluster reviews, with most critics naming it a sloppy money grab with no real passion, depth, or insight into the being that it is Michael Myers. The same concept applies to 2022’s Scream reboot. However, unlike Halloween Kills, Scream utilized a combination of brilliant performances, blood-curdling gore, and a slightly nuanced plot.
Overall, the future of horror is looking bright, with more nuanced plots, fewer reboots, and more innovative screenplays, horror is on the rise. Who is to say this new era of horror will not haunt us more than Hitchcock’s rampant birds?