Horror is up there with comedy as one of the top most criticized genres. Why is that? The main reason revolves around the fact that everyone has their own unique fear: drowning, burning, death by spiders, etc. However, the problem with the horror genre is the inability to carry an awesome idea throughout the entirety of the film. That, and some very misleading trailers.
Found footage movies are guilty of committing this sin time and time again. I can't remember a time when I wasn't asking a million questions about the narrative by the time the credits rolled. The Gallows is a perfect example of such a film. Released in July 2015, The Gallows caught the attention of many horror buffs because of its interesting premise. On October 29, 1993, Beatrice High School student Charlie Grimille is accidentally hanged and killed after a prop malfunction during a presentation of the play "The Gallows." His parents, along with the whole audience, witness the tragic event.
Twenty years after the tragic event, the very same high school foolishly decides to bring the play back. A couple of teenagers (who serve as cliché stereotypes that are never actually representative of modern-day high schoolers, mind you), upset over their school's decision, embark on a quest to destroy the set the night before the play. One thing leads to another, the ghost kid hangs them all, and the movie is over. Terrible, isn't it?
A New Kind Of Horror
A24, the successful indie distribution and production company known for movies like: Enemy, Under The Skin, Room, The Witch and It Comes At Night, is my main focus. Before going to see a movie over the weekend, I find myself checking the popular review round-up site Rotten Tomatoes to see the fresh or rotten new releases. Where Rotten Tomatoes falters, however, is in its dedication to critic scores over users'. That's where Cinemascore comes in handy. Unlike Rotten Tomatoes, Cinemascore places an A–F score on newly released movies inspired by regular user reviews collected after the opening weekend of a new release.
One writer for Vox, recently reviewed the newly released (and highly praised) It Comes At Night, claiming it was "a terrifying, uncomfortably relevant horror masterpiece." The writer praises the overarching dread and on-point performances:
"Horror fans frequently debate whether the horror films distributed by A24 — which include The Witch, Green Room, and Under the Skin — are made for mainstream moviegoers or for a more esoteric, indie film–loving set. The answer seems to be somewhere in between, and It Comes at Night rides that line easily thanks to a combination of fantastic acting, tense plotting, and, in particular, a surfeit of sumptuous aesthetics."
Considering A24's reputation with indie films, it wouldn't be fair to criticize it for trying to appeal to a wide audience. After watching this movie for the first time in theaters, I believe it does deserve all of the praise because it truly felt like I was living one of my deepest darkest nightmares for an hour and a half. It's memorable, depressing and haunting in a very different kind of way.
'It' Couldn't Be More Divisive
With a Cinemascore grade of a D, it came to my realization that It Comes At Night wasn't very popular among users. The same goes for 2015's The Witch, also released by A24. So, if critics are praising A24's horror movies, but users are panning them, are they actually good movies?
The answer to that question is moot. Movies are a form of art. Art is judged differently. Some people loved Mel Gibson's Passion Of The Christ, while others despised it for its gratuitous take on Jesus's death and rebirth. Personally, I think The Witch and It Comes At Night are excellent in what they set out to be: atmospheric, arthouse cinema. The creative decision to take away the luxury of horrifying imagery isn't for everyone. People craving to see the plague's effect on the human population in It Comes At Night, will be disappointed to know that "it" remains lost in their imaginations.
So, who's to blame? The trailers. The trailer for It Comes At Night is at fault here because of how deceptive it is to the public. It pieces together some truly shocking imagery in a quick montage surrounded by an increasingly spine-tingling background noise. It's concise, confusing, engaging — and untruthful.
Preparation For The Future
Hopefully this article has been insightful for those who feel robbed by A24's recent horror movies. Again, they aren't for everyone, but it would be dishonest to label them as "bad" movies. Remember to come back to this article when and if A24 releases a trailer for another horror movie, so you know what you're in for when buying that ticket.
What do you think of A24's horror movies?