When people think of horror movies, they often think of low budget movies with cheap jump scares or overly violent scenes with blood and gore. Most people are unwilling to subject themselves to a horror movie because they think the experience will be scary and generally unpleasant. I understand that horror movies aren’t for everyone, but in my opinion, horror movies are some of the most intelligently made and interesting movies to come out of Hollywood.
Horror movies have come a long way since the era of “Psyco” and “The Birds.” For one, the CGI of these movies has greatly improved, making horror movies more realistic and, therefore, scarier. I find that the closer horror movies resemble real life, the scarier they are. Horror movies have also become more nuanced in more recent years. There are fewer movies now about an innocent family that moves into an obviously haunted house or a creepy kid who sees ghosts. Storylines have become more complex and aim to rattle a deeper part of the viewer’s mind.
Here are a few that stand out in my mind:
An example of a horror movie that tackles social issues is “Get Out” by Jordan Peele, which received a lot of praise and won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 2017. “Get Out” is a movie that depicts a black man’s unnerving visit to his white girlfriend’s house where her parents begin acting strangely around him and the situation escalates quickly. The movie is a satirical and thrilling film that depicts an extreme form of racism that is unnerving for the viewer. Peele’s most recent work “Us,” although not as impactful as “Get Out,” in my opinion, is another film that is smart in the way that it delivers scares and leaves the audience with an urge to find meaning in the symbols and themes of the film. Both of Peele’s films are extremely difficult to unravel and are packed with subtext, making them by far superior to any Chucky movie that people usually think of when they think of horror movies.
“A Quiet Place” is another thrilling film that came out in 2017 and earned a lot of praise. The film is brilliantly directed by John Krasinski and is eerily quiet with minimal spoken dialogue. Krasinski making the choice to almost completely take away the audience’s sense of hearing is an intelligent choice because it makes the audience feel vulnerable and slightly uncomfortable from the start. “A Quiet Place” also doubles as a movie about a loving family trying to survive in a dangerous environment. With both of these aspects shining in the movie, “A Quiet Place” is an example of how horror movies are becoming more dynamic and innovative.
The 2018 film “Hereditary” directed by Ari Aster is yet another horror film in recent years that is breaking boundaries and changing how we view the horror genre. Although “Hereditary” contains seemingly normal horror movie tropes like a troubled family, a weird kid, and a mysterious grandma, the way in which Aster maneuvers through these themes is stunning and new. An unexpected event happens at the beginning which leads the family to begin spiraling into madness. It’s never clear whether events are truly taking place or if they are conjurings of the character’s crippling mental state. This leaves the viewer with a constant sense of uneasiness and doubt in the character’s motives. This one really sticks in your mind and it initially impressed me how terrified I became by small movements or shifts in the camera angle. I will warn that “Hereditary” is a truly terrifying movie and that’s coming from a self-proclaimed horror movie fanatic.
Horror movies are more important to our culture and society than most people think. These films were made to deal with our deepest darkest fears as humans which tend to revolve around death. It’s interesting to see the shift in the horror movie genre to encapsulate relevant issues in our world like racial discrimination and tackle these issues with creativity, rather than using the same predictable plots of the past.
Sometimes art should be dark. We live in an anxious time where we need an outlet to deal with these feelings, and I believe that horror movies are the perfect outlet. Horror movies give us insight into what we are truly scared of, which I think is important for us to know. If you gained nothing else from this article, please take my horror movie recommendations and enjoy them this Halloween!