Meeting The Babadook (or: How I Regained Hope for Horror)
by Eli Henry
As of 2014, this generation has no horror auteurs, save for perhaps James Wan (who I'll discuss further in a minute). Where is the 2000's Stanley Kubrick, or John Carpenter? Hell, where is our The Shining or The Thing? In my next article I'll dissect horror films throughout the decades, but until then, here's a short read that may give you the same hope for the future of horror that the film The Babadook gives me.
For those of you uninitiated into the world of the film, The Babadook is about a single mother whose child begins acting out soon after they discover a creepy children's book about a character named "the Babadook".
It soon appears that perhaps there is a reason for her son's behavior.
The plot of the Babadook, which may initially seem basic, is actually incredibly genius, and since I first heard of the film, I have been dying to see it. The film is written and directed by Jennifer Kent (no relation to Clark), and her style shines through every beat in the trailer. There is almost a storybook look to the entire thing that is both beautiful and terrifying at once. Everything about this movie looks amazing, and the reviews coming out for it are praising it. So... why aren't there more horror films like this?
Thanks to the Paranormal Activity series, large film studios have decided not to pay a large amount of money to create horror films, and to only make them watered-down PG-13. After all, the Paranormal Activity movies, awful as they may be, made big bucks on a tiny budget. Due to certain people's continuous viewing of these sub-par horror flicks, we have received a large influx of low-budget horror films. Some knock-offs of the PA franchise formula (Devil's Due, The Last Exorcism), and some okay, seemingly-original horror films (Insidious, The Purge). The only major film studios that seem to place any stock in true horror films are Warner Brothers and Lionsgate. For a long time, I was consistently disappointed in every horror film I would go see. Many people will argue that James Wan is saving horror and making great horror films, but the thing is, his films aren't original. As stylistically pleasing and atmospheric as they may be, they are highly derivative of scores of films from the 1970s and 80s. Also, he has publicly announced that he is leaving horror films for the time being.
For the most part, horror films have been a wash throughout the 2010s. However, after reading about and watching the trailer for the Babadook, I was given new hope. Maybe, just maybe, we can have original horror films again. Amazing and complex films like the Shining, ground-breaking and ominous like Halloween, and maybe even insane and surreal horror like A Nightmare on Elm Street or Phantasm. All it takes is us horror fans buying these new, original horror films like the Babadook, and soon enough, studios will learn that we won't pay for shoddily-made flicks like Paranormal Activity.
What do you say, will you help me bring back original horror?