The problem with most modern horror films


Matthew Emery
Matthew Emery

Halloween is only a few days away, and for me, that means a proper return to some of my favorite movies. However, as much as I love horror, I hate it.

I’m an extreme horror movie snob.

I can enjoy movies like “Jurassic World,” or “The Avengers,” for what they are, big dumb action movies, but I tend to be much more critical when viewing horror movies.

I find it incredibly fascinating that horror can cause a viewer to feel so unsettled and disturbed. For me, that’s the point in watching movies, playing video games or reading—to feel something.

It sounds twisted, but the fact that horror movies can stick with a person and cause fear is something special.

Think of it from the filmmaker’s perspective. They want to create something that you will never forget. Evocation of a fear is the filmmaker doing his job at the highest possible standard.

This is where most modern horror films have begun to irk me. They don’t bother to instill fear into the audience.

Instead, concepts like atmosphere and suspense have been replaced with jump scares. Jump scares are when the big bad character comes from off screen unexpectedly in hopes of making the audience jump.

Jump scares have been around for a long time in horror, but from my observation, they really became standard after the success of “The Grudge.”

Oddly enough, “The Grudge” does not bother me that much. For me, it was a fresh concept at the time, and it was used cleverly.

Whereas “The Grudge” used jump scares cleverly, ten films would follow using jump scares as an excuse not to build tension. Jump scares became the crutch for lazy filmmakers.

I believe laziness is the biggest problem with most modern horror movies.

The jump scare tactic is a big proprietor of lassitude, but another horror fad has been the haunting storyline.

Ghosts, demons and haunted houses are scary: “Amityville” and “Poltergeist” established this 30 years ago.

“Insidious,” “Paranormal Activity” and the hordes of movies in between beat these themes into the ground to the point to where they all run together and are generally forgettable.

I know running with a good idea until it’s stale is not a new thing in horror, for instance, the slasher films of the ‘70s and ‘80s.

Where this differs is the slasher films essentially had mascots. Michael Myers, Jason Vorhees, Freddy Krueger and so on.

Those unique characters made the films distinguishable from each other. In today’s haunting movies, we don’t get a mascot, we get a shadow or silhouette at best.

Don’t get me wrong, there are modern horror films out there that get it right. Movies like “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night,” and “It Follows” are newer releases I highly recommend watching if you are looking for a proper horror film to watch this Halloween.

“It Follows” is the best horror movie I’ve seen in at least ten years. It strays away from the modern conventions of horror movies and does something that is actually unique and refreshing.

“It Follows” might not make you jump throughout, but after I watched it, I would always find the idea it offers sliding into my mind when I was in bed with all the lights turned out. To me, that’s a special achievement in connecting with an audience.

Smaller budget indie films are the best way to get a reliable horror movie. This applies to many genres beyond horror, indie filmmakers aren’t afraid to go out on a limb and try something different.

The results can be a mixed bag, but for me, the intrigue only gives me more than most modern horror films.