Let The Right One In: Why Movie Choice Matters In Horror
I watched Evil Dead (the 2013 version) for the second time last night. As I was watching it, I realized that I wasn’t watching it because it was scary – slasher movies don’t frighten me, and gore rarely disturbs me. Yet, I still like the movie, even if it has technically failed (at least to me) as a horror movie. Roger Ebert’s philosophy on critiquing was centred around asking himself whether or not the film succeeded in what it was trying to accomplish, a goal that, for a horror movie, would be its success at scaring the audience.
Evil Dead didn’t scare me, nor do any of the other “classic” horror movies, like A Nightmare On Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Halloween, The Thing, and so on. Despite that, these movies are acclaimed as the best representations of their genre. What does it mean if the supposed best examples of a genre fail at doing what their genre is supposed to do? Maybe its just a inherent part of the genre. Since horror movies (usually) have to actually be scary to be considered good, they tend to try to focus on scaring one group of people; that’s why you have your psychological horrors, slashers, or monster movies.
The problem with this is that what scares one person doesn’t scare everybody. For me, the scariest movie I’ve ever seen is The Blair Witch Project, a movie that tends to be one that is either loved or hated. As a person who grew up afraid of the dark, The Blair Witch Project tapped into my subconscious fear of the unknown in a way that no other movie had, and it freaked me the hell out. Some people hate it though, calling it stupid and a waste of time, a statement that I would echo about the many dozens of slasher movies produced each year.
In the end, I think that the reason that the majority of horror movies are awful lies in the fact that it is in the nature of the genre to try to scare everyone. I think the best horror movies decide who it is they want to scare, and decide the best way to do that. If someone is afraid of blood and guts, there’s an Evil Dead or Saw waiting for them to squirm in fear. If, like me, there’s an audience who is afraid not of what is going bump in the night, but what could be, there’s movies like The Blair Witch Project.
So, I don’t think it’s horror as a genre that sucks, just our own personal decisions when picking horror movies. If you want to be scared, pick the right one.