Back in August, I did my best "Old Man Yells At Cloud" impersonation and asked whether Horror has gone downhill over the years. Over the weekend, I saw two excellent example of why that cloud earned my ire.
With the Halloween Season being upon us, I have to celebrate by watching every horror movie my schedule will permit. It's just not Halloween without a monster marathon or two. And this week I viewed a pair of very recent entries into the genre, and each was annoying for different, but very illustrative, reasons.
The first was called Terrifier. It was a basic slasher film where a guy in a clown costume chases down a couple of pretty girls and the occasional innocent bystander. And that's it. I have told you the entire plot. Did the killer have some interesting reason for killing? No. Did the victims react in any way that I haven't seen in a million other films? No. Was there anything, ANYTHING AT ALL, to set it apart from countless other entries in the "masked killer with no interesting traits kills people" genre. Once again, no. I have seen this movie a hundred times now. It would have been cool and edgy...in 1978. But in 2018 it is dull dull dull dull DULL.
And mind you this movie came highly recommended. I am on several horror groups on Facebook, and I saw a lot of people gush about this film. It has won awards at horror film festivals. And I just don't get it. Is this the best that horror can do anymore? Reheat the same plot structure that John Carpenter created with Halloween and maybe throw in more gore? Really?
Malevolent was a different story. It eschewed the gory, visceral horror that Terrifier embodied and went for a slow burn. A really slow burn, an incredibly slow burn. So slow that it never really burned.
It was the story of a brother and sister pair of ghost hunters, who are complete charlatans conning clients out of their money, who encounter real ghosts. A decent enough concept, though I have seen it before. But frankly, not much of interest happens until the last 20 minutes or so of the movie. I will admit that I really liked the last 20 minutes, but I probably could have fallen asleep for the entirety of the movie before that and not missed anything.
So I am forced to ask, why we can't have more horror films that fall between these two extremes? Are horror movies doomed to be either mindless gore or excruciating boredom? Are those our only two options?
As a lover of the genre, I hope not. I have seen it done, but not very much recently. If anyone knows of good recent examples of that middle ground, please leave them in the comments. It could make for an exciting discussion, and besides, I could use some good recommendations.