I love scary movies. I’ve seen so many that I’ve become desensitized to jump scares and the various other tropes evident in any piece of horror focused media. I began watching scary movies much earlier than I should have, one of my early scary movie memories is the mutants attack in The Hills Have Eyes remake.
Unfortunately, horror movies are terrible. They rarely ever possess the “it” factor it takes to impress me. Bad acting, cheap special effects, and poor narrative structure, they’re all tropes that are loved by fans, myself being no exception, but there’s denying it that they’re rarely pushed the envelope cinematically. But, the winds are changing. Horror is evolving into a new work of art, with new approaches to creating this fear factor and driving it home.
It (2017) was a good movie and not just a good scary movie. Reasonably faithful to the book, of which is 1400 pages long (and understandably leaving out almost all of the child sex stuff) and also utilizing the childhood fears that go on to form the various aspects of adult personalities. It’s almost more of a coming of age story than a horror movie, but it appeals to the terrors of growing up, as well as the loss of innocence. It’s narrative and surprisingly efficient child actors make it stand out as a new entry into the horror scene.
The Haunting of Hill House (2018) is one of Netflix’s more recent originals, and it blew me away. As a long time fan of horror, Hill House help renew some of the burnout that has built up after years of being less than impressed. The characters are all flawed adults who are struggling to deal with the trauma of their childhood, manifesting itself in a spectrum of emotions and unhealthy coping mechanisms. Characters and stories are the focus of the series, where its stride is so effective. It utilizes concern and worries for the characters by establishing an emotional connection early on, and that’s where the fear shines. It isn’t just the ghosts that upset the viewer, it’s the health of the characters, and it does so in one of the most effective ways I’ve ever witnessed.
So where does horror as a genre go from here? That’s tough to say. Genres are often difficult to predict, I doubt anyone expected to that a comic book superhero franchise would be arguably the cinematic powerhouse it’s grown into, but it has. It’s evident that when horror is able to prioritize the critical components of story and characters, they can make generally impressive works of art, which is what horror is supposed to be about.