Happy Halloween to you all! It's that time of year again, a time of spooky costumes, haunted houses, ditching it all come November 1st, and of course, scary movies.
We all know about the classic horror movies like Dracula, The Wolfman, The Mummy, Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, and so on. but more recently, we've been treated to horror films that are, for lack of better words, just evil. Things like Paranormal Activity, The Conjuring, The Devil Inside, and most recently Ouija and Annabelle are all examples of how drastically the genre has shifted its focus. How did we go from ghouls and goblins to demonic spirits? How has the genre evolved? This is something I've thought about recently and, seeing as it's Halloween, I thought it would be the perfect time to discuss it.
So before we can look at today's horror movies, we have to look at the ones that came before, the classics. This was a simpler time when movies were much more reserved. Then these movies came around, things we had only ever read about. The scariness came from the idea that they were unnatural, things you wouldn't find in everyday America, and now you're seeing them right before your eyes. Back then, a man who turns into a wolf or a mummified corpse was very new to us, and very frightening.
However, over time, they weren't really that scary anymore. We, as people, were maturing and starting to see past the fake fangs and the prosthetic bolts and wanted to see more. Thus, we didn't really see them taken quite that seriously for a while. We decided to focus on carnage, just murder and guts. Because deep down everyone is afraid of death. Thus, the slasher film was born. We got new and terrifying killers like Freddy Kruger, Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers, Chucky the Doll, Leatherface, and much more as time went on. Granted, they were incredibly cheesy and today considered kind of silly, but this was the 80's, when a PG-13 rating meant something. It was violent, gory, and full of scares, these movies were the new classics.
But, as with their predecessors, these started to lose their charm. They got sillier and sillier with sequel after sequel after sequel. We started getting bored with the endless gore. We needed to redefine the horror genre once again. Suddenly, people started looking to a relatively old premise: ghosts.
Now, the idea of ghosts isn't really that scary. We've seen them in romances, comedies, as well as horror films. But somewhere along the line, filmmakers really looked at how they could scare people with them. So we turned the attention not to ghosts, but to spirits, evil spirits to be exact. This suddenly made these movies bone-chillingly creepy, but why? The answer is simple:
People still believe in demons.
We've all heard creaks in our house in the night, we've all thought we heard something behind us, we've all felt a chill down our spine in a certain part of our room. Heck, there are tons of people with stories about haunted houses. There's clearly a majority of people that do think spirits are real. And that's what makes these new movies so scary, because these things, at least to us, do exist. The thought that this could be something that happens to us, that we could find ourselves victims to these demonic powers, is much more frightening that some vampire or a crazy guy with an ax could ever be.
But the question remains: How exactly has horror evolved?
To someone who doesn't pay attention to the genre, it has gotten too dark and too evil. to someone who doesn't like the genre, its just the same old crap trying to get a cheap scare out of you. But to those of us that appreciate the genre and will most likely watch a few scary movies tonight, it is merely changing its material, just like we are changing as a culture.
Thanks for reading! I'm off to find my copy of The Shining. Until next time!