Let me tell you a quick little narrative:
I saw the 9:45 premiere of “Halloween” (yes, the 2018 one, I did not go back in time).
I had very low expectations walking into this movie. Yes, the original “Halloween” was a classic and you don’t get a better horror score than that, but Hollywood has a habit of mooching off these old famous projects more for the money, not the quality. Plus, the trailer just made the whole movie look lame, in my opinion.
So it was with that mindset that I attended this new horror movie, starring Jamie Lee Curtis as grown up Laurie Strode (stellar acting choice, as she played Laurie Strode in the original Halloween as well). It takes place 40 years after the original, focusing on Laurie’s continued trauma from that night and the effects it has on her relationship with the rest of the world.
And so, the first thing one notices after they reflect on the movie they just watched, is how funny it was. Scary? No, not really. Entertaining? Definitely.
I think that experience tells us a lot about the future of horror movies.
Now, I’m not a Film Studies major, nor do I review movies professionally, but I do see quite a lot of horror movies. One thing I’ve noticed is that it is getting harder and harder to scare the contemporary audience, so much so that filmmakers either strip away any character development, backstory, etc in favor of the basic horror movie plot and jump scares, or just make the film too involved. They entertain audiences, but don’t leave as many scared.
There are reasons the original “Halloween” was such a classic, along with other household names such as “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “The Exorcist,” etc. They started as simple, genuinely terrifying concepts (like our nightmares having real implications, demonic possession, etc), instead of relying on over-used gimmicks.
For example, how many horror movies have you seen involving a doll? Either the doll is possessed, it’s moved from place to place or it’s just randomly there looking creepy. I’m guessing the answer is a lot. That’s because dolls really aren’t that inherently freaky, it’s just movie makers grasping at straws for what can scare viewers next. Not that I’m saying all doll movies are bad, it’s just an overused concept.
This could be attributed to the fact that contemporary viewers have a shorter attention spans, what with the constant updates from smartphones and social media alike. This is most certainly probable, but I also think it points to something deeper.
In my opinion, we as a society are becoming more and more resistant to really exploring the things we fear. We dance around real issues in favor of political correctness, and we surround ourselves with like-minded individuals for constant validation. Old horror movies capitalized on the real fears society felt, but now no one wants to face those fears. We just go to the movies for quick jump-scares to get our minds off the real world for a second.
And how truly horrific is that?