The Horrible State of Horror Movies

Fear is universal. There's no such thing as a man without fear, despite the bill of goods Daredevil tries to sell us. That's why so many people enjoy horror movies; they give us a safe way to give in to that fear, to get that adrenaline rush. It's why we love them as kids, despite all the nightmares and sleepless nights, and despite the fact that we'd spend half as much time watching them from behind the sofa as we did on the sofa, to paraphrase a popular decades-old British expression (thank you, Doctor Who fans).

Think Doctor Who isn't scary? The Silents will fuck your shit up.

I'll be honest, I hated horror movies when I was little. I never wanted to watch them. With the overactive imagination I've always had, a horror movie was a recipe for disaster that would result in me awake for nights, flinching and jumping at every single sound and shadow, and full of nightmares whenever I did fall asleep. However, as I've grown older over the last decade or so, I've missed that feeling, and am always on the lookout for a good horror movie that will keep me up at night instead of fading from my consciousness twenty minutes after I leave the theater. Let's be honest, though. Today, good horror movies are hard to find. I don't just say that because I'm older and harder to scare, because honestly, I can be a twitchy bitch sometimes and there are witnesses who will attest to that. There is just a dearth of quality horror being made, and I've come up with a few reasons why that I'll present for you now in countdown form... because who doesn't love a countdown?

5.) 3-D. Just stop. Not just horror movies, for that matter, but all movies. Sure, some 3-D movies are good, and deserve to be in 3-D. But mostly? Stop trying to distract us from the fact that you made a shitty movie by making us wear glasses and look at bright things flying at our face and giving us a headache. It's bad enough we just sat through your shitty movie, we don't need to go home with physical pain on top of it.

4.) Found Footage. Here's another practice that just needs to stop. From restricted camera angles to shaky shots, cameras pointed at the floor as people run, ridiculous jump cuts and edits, it's all awful. I mean, the first Paranormal Activity might have been good if it was shot like a real movie. I could go on, but instead I'll give you this link to a list of "found footage" movies and let you count up how many of them are actually good. By my count, there are maybe four good ones, out of the sixty-five or so listed. Just stop. Make a real movie.

3.) PG-13. Maybe it's just me, but very few horror movies work when put under PG-13 restrictions. Not necessarily because of lack of gore or nudity, but for language. If you have a movie where people are being stalked, possessed, tortured, killed, etc., and there can only be one instance of the f-bomb in the script, the film suffers for that because it hurts the realism. People curse, and under the circumstances listed above, the f-bomb is going to get dropped more often plates at a Jewish wedding. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, but I feel the saying applies more often than not: go hard or go home.

2.) Remakes. You know what isn't scary? Something I've seen before. And since most remakes suck, let me ask you another question: you know what really isn't scary? A watered-down version of something I've seen before. I'm not going to name any names, so in order to provide an example, I'll borrow a move from Archie Bunker's playbook and just look at the offending party and whistle...


Again, there are exceptions to the rule; I thought the Friday the 13th remake was watchable but not scary, and I really enjoyed the first of Rob Zombie's Halloween remakes and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake that starred Jessica Biel, but for the most part, you want to scare me? Show me something new, like a girl coming out of the TV that's three feet away from me to kill me.

1.) An Over-Reliance on Gore. Yes, gore can be entertaining and unsettling and, when done right, can certainly add to a horror movie. But it can never be what makes a horror movie great. Want an example? Look at the Saw franchise. Sure, the first movie had some gore in it, but it also had a tight, interesting plot and was filled with tension that existed outside the gore. With each sequel, the traps and gore took more and more importance over plot and each movie became progressively worse. Torture-porn does not equate to horror. Relatable things are scary. The commonplace being made uncommon is scary. That's why, for example, the original Nightmare on Elm Street worked so well; being stalked and killed in our dreams works because we all dream. Everyone needs to sleep sometime. The Ring worked because we all watch movies, we all have televisions. A movie like the recent My Soul To Take doesn't work because we don't all have shards of a killer's soul split between us and everyone else in our town born on the same day as us... yeah, that was stupid. A lot of horror lies in psychology, in the aforementioned relatable circumstances, in tension and shocks and unexpected imagery.

I disliked Insidious. There was sleeplessness.

A perfect example of what I'm talking about is The Exorcist, possibly the scariest movie ever. If you were brought up religious and believe in God and the Devil and things like that, that movie will resonate with you like nothing else. Today's horror filmmakers could learn a lot from the Exorcist.

Just please don't remake it with a PG-13 rating in 3-D.