When you watch a horror movie, you know what you're in for: blood, guts, and above all else a scare. But a lot of horror movies often use recycled plot lines and character tropes, based on whatever is scary at the time. And this has been happening longer than you think. Check out the world's first horror movie The Devil's Castle:
Of course, the movie above is cliched. It's a stereotypical horror set in a castle, involving monsters and demons. But the movie clearly draws on what was popular and scary at the time, such as Gothic literature: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, and Horace Warpole's The Castle of Otranto.
Horror is an adaptable genre. It has to be. The Devil's Castle probably once scared someone enough for them to have a sleepless night. But to a modern audience, the film is laughable.
Back then, technology was obviously not very well advanced. The main way to contact someone was to write a letter. It's easy to see that with the introduction of various modern technology, the horror genre has adapted to get the scare. With the introduction of the landline phone, horror movies often focused on the mysterious stalker who rang in the night:
When the mobile phone became big, horror adapted again:
And most recently has moved into using the internet to scare, with films such as Unfriended becoming more popular:
It seems that in a world where people can contact each other with ease, horror has decided to focus on what happens when that contact is taken too far.
Obviously, this is not a new trend. Stalker-horror has been a genre since the 1980's and before, with films such as He Knows You're Alone (1980) and the original The Hitcher (1986) being big hits.
And this is no different in the modern world. But in a world where communication is free and easy, surely it would be better to focus on a plot where communication is completely cut off? Horror has confronted this trope before, withe plot devices such as 'my-phone-is-dead' or 'there's-no-signal'. But how easy is it to do that in the modern world? Is isolation where horror could be going next?
Another popular trend for modern horror is of course meta-horror. This is horror which explores the world outside of the plot of the film, and makes fun of its own tropes. The most notable film for this is of course The Cabin in the Woods. What made the film so likable by horror fans and critics was its ability to poke fun at itself:
Another meta-horror film is The Final Girls. Unlike The Cabin in the Woods, the film goes one step further in taking modern day characters and placing them in an old school horror film, which they have to figure their own way out of:
Films like these two allow the horror loving audience to laugh with them, and have fun spotting the cliches in horror throughout the ages.
So maybe this is the answer for modern horror: in a world where everything is made scary, maybe the next big thing is to laugh at it all.