“Horror” Movies

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“Horror” Movies

Jake Carson, Staff Writer

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I believe any self-respecting movie lover, especially one that grew up watching movies in the 80’s and 90’s, can frustratingly ask along with myself, what has happened to the Horror movie genre? I was inspired to write about this subject after recently going to see The Nun in theaters, the latest addition to The Conjuring franchise. Being a fan of The Conjuring, I came into it with high expectations, but The Nun angered me beyond belief because it was quite literally the epitome of what is wrong with horror movies today. The scariest scenes already spoiled in the trailer, the most standard, predictable jump scares, along with a tension-less climax, the movie has the whole 9 yards. As much of a disappointment as this movie was, it’s just one of many that make the state of today’s horror movies such a mess.

   Doug McGlynn from MovieTime.com says it best when talking about modern horror movies, “they value the concept more than the execution.” This is exactly why the most common description of horror movies nowadays is “over-hyped.” It almost seems more time is spent on the advertising campaign than the actual movie. Some of the best scenes are robbed of their scare value because they were already spoiled in the trailer, much like in The Nun. (Just a warning, I’m going to be using The Nun as an example a lot) This excessive focus on the concept alone is also why we’re often left with main villains with very vague powers. You’re not sure what exact abilities the monster or demon has, only that they are very plot driven and seem to come and go.

Not only are the villain’s powers inconsistent, but the hero will manage to defeat them. Most horror movies today seem to have their villain not ever take any real action until the final act, but more pop up here and there for a scare. They are temporarily vanquished by whatever random method the hero can manage at the time. There is an actual scene from The Nun where a zombie/demon nun is coming after the protagonists and has her head chopped off with an ax. A demon nun… When just 30 minutes earlier the monsters could only be defeated by holy water, it’s just such a frustrating thing in movies because everything is so vague in the worst way. Horror directors need to stop being so eager for the green light and to run away with the movie before they actually have a plot beyond the basic concept. Great horror classics such as The Thing or The Shining have a concept with as much potential as modern movies. The difference being they wonderfully develop it through a plot around the concept, with rich characters, all while keeping the right amount of vagueness to keep the audience engaged. Horror movies can’t just be made cheap, to make something unsettling take times, which brings me to my next issue.

Jump Scare: A technique often used in horror films and video games, intended to scare the audience by surprising them with an abrupt change in image or event, usually co-occurring with a loud, frightening sound.

The jump scare is and will always be the cheapest way to acquire a scare, and sadly it is the most prevalent thing in today’s horror movies. How popular this “method” of scaring the audience is today speaks volumes. Some of the best horror movies to date, Halloween, The Exorcist, and Texas Chainsaw Massacre are some of the most unsettling and disturbing movies to come to the screen, and NONE of them rely on jump scares. Now you can’t go see a horror movie without one jump scare after another, and then after the first two or three, you become unfazed by them. They absolutely can be useful, but only when used right. When there are jump scares in the first 20 minutes of the movie, you’re already partially desensitized and the unsettling atmosphere no longer exists. The reason those old movies are the classics is that they know how to make a slow burn, they don’t need loud sudden noises, but make use of quiet audio and visual.  They know how to start small and build an atmosphere of dread, that’s why all of those movies end with a fantastical third act that is absolutely terrifying because of how well the horror was built.

It’s time for a revamping of the horror genre, no more one movie spin-offs like The Nun, but a call back to the basics of horror. We’re tired of being bored in the theaters and knowing exactly when the scares are coming. The classics will always be the bar to which modern horror is compared, so I think we can all agree that we want to see something new, and most of all something that can get our adrenaline pumping.

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