In this Spooktober many eager fans of horror will be watching old and new films that brings terror and somehow delight to many around the world. The latest installment in the Halloween franchise comes out on October 19th and I find myself disillusioned as usual. The genre simply doesn’t interest me however suspense, which is often included in horror, is something I greatly enjoy. The fact is that most of these films are silly to me. I think I get it from my father. One of my favorite stories of him is one where he went out on a date with my mother and aunt and uncle to a horror film. I cannot remember which flick they attended at the theater but I know that my father was constantly laughing throughout the film while fans around him were getting more and more upset with him. I completely understand those film goers frustrations but I agree with my father wholeheartedly. The Grudge made me laugh out loud several times and nearly every iteration of Zombies that I have ever seen has been laughable at best. Give me Zombieland or Sean of the Dead any day over Dawn of the Dead or other horror types.
Maybe it’s because I know all of this is extremely fake but I don’t understand the appeal. At most, the movies make me feel depressed but generally just make me laugh at their silliness. For instance, Lance and I recently watched Mandy starring Nicolas Cage. Besides being one of the weirdest films I have ever seen there were moments that where scary music was playing and I found myself thinking “this wouldn’t be remotely scary if the music were different”. Granted, music is a big part of horror but many times the scenes being shown are normal but the music makes you think it’s scary. In Mandy I was never scarred, disturbed, confused, lost maybe but never scared. I’m sure this film was horrifying to others (which some of the story and visuals were horrifying, just not scary) but to me it was more disturbing and unsettling.
I prefer to have my mind stimulated via a suspense thriller type film rather than an attempt to scare me. IT (2017) is an example of how to be a “scary” movie but be something more. It felt more like a suspense rather than horror. The monster’s motivations are unclear, children terrified, visuals stunning and story compelling. Add to that the fact that it was more than cheap jump scares, chilling music and dark lighting and I found myself extremely entertained. IT brought more to the table than cliche horror tropes. Likewise, Silence of the Lambs could be considered horror however I think of it as much more of a suspense film. Hannibal is a man full of mystery, intelligence, intrigue, and a deep character. His character is driven by more than a lust for blood or other such superficial motivations.
A Quiet Place is another fantastic example of how to merge fright and suspense into one. I can see how some would be scared by the 2018 film. The constant silence and situations the family are in bring many tense moments and serve to put the audience in a state of apprehensiveness. John Krasinski and the cast around him acted beautifully in this “horror” flick. Audiences cared about the family and got to know each member of the family enough to be genuinely concerned for their safety and well being. The use of sound, jumps, and other tropes were executed masterfully in such a way that I could appreciate them. Films like the Grudge don’t offer any substance whereas something of this nature allow audiences to develop feelings about the characters and be more invested.
Horror is an interesting genre and one that I wish I liked more but I don’t. The jump scares, demons, eerie music, over the top story lines, and over abundance of screaming do not appeal to me. I think a lot of it boils down to me not actually experiencing it. As an avid gamer, I understand the nature of horror in games. The original Gears of War incorporated elements of the genre and it admittedly scares me. Being in control of the character makes a jump scare much more impactful and the other elements of horror seem more real. Until Dawn developed by Supermassive Games is the greatest example of how to terrify someone that I have personally experienced. I was constantly in a state of unease while playing it but yet enjoyed it. Perhaps this is what others get out of scary movies and that is why they get it. It comes off as humorous to me when I am not the one behind the wheel like in a game.
The overarching reality is that I prefer movies that offer more than cheap jump scares and music. Give me a good psychological thriller such as Silence of the Lambs and day over The Nun or Paranormal activity. Show me interesting characters with good personalities, interesting motivations and decent development and I may be interested in the horror film. Personal preference plays a big role in how a person enjoys their scary films and my preference is to not watch stupid movies. I hope you all enjoy some spooky entertainment in this season of chills. Some may tell me I am crazy for enjoying a brainless franchise like Fast and Furious and I will tell you the same about most horror movies. Happy Halloween Crunchers!