There is an increasing challenge in the movie industry in terms of specific genre– the audience is just becoming bored. It appears that most people have seen it all, may it be in action, sports movies, even horror and suspense. For me, it has been quite a long while since we have had a really good scare from the movies, and boy do I miss it. Nowadays, it’s mostly just cheap tricks and scares that is as good as gone as soon as the credits start rolling. I remember seeing The Exorcist during its re-release, and I really found it hard to be alone in a room, and after I saw the Japanese version of The Ring, I had goosebumps for a week whenever I looked at our television set at night. Unfortunately, even with the good ones that came out recently, what are considered to be good horror movies are those ones that would have you jumping out of your seat for a good scare, but after you’ve laughed along with the audience because of how good it got all of you, it’s all gone.
I think Monsters, Inc. had a good way of summarizing the “crisis” as it was. Even kids don’t buy the cheap tricks anymore, and it is indeed very challenging for moviemakers to be creative in finding ways to get under the skin of their audiences. In a way, one part of the problem is having audiences who are cynical and not into suspending disbelief. Knowing that movies like these are being orchestrated in a film studio with all the visual effects applied after shooting, takes away the whole experience of fear and wonder from seeing these movies. This is why most horror movies nowadays are either based from real events or true to life stories. The element of it having actually happened in real life adds to the scare factor, and the possibility that it could actually happen to someone does give credence to the scare quality.
However, there are quite a few movies that are thought-provoking in their way of delivering the story, and in a good way, become creative in instilling fear on its audience. Take for example The Sixth Sense. During the entire movie, the audience is drawn to the idea that Cole, the child lead in the film, sees ghosts. He does exactly that for the entire film, and all that time, the audience gets to deal with what they see Cole can see. It was good because there are many scenes that are really scary. Only during the end would the audience realize that that isn’t all to be scared about, and that something else even more hair-raising is revealed at the end. If you have seen the movie you will know exactly what I mean. It was clever too, as most audience will want to see it again to see all the evidences that lead up to the reveal.
The Exorcism of Emily Rose is one of the scary horror movies I’ve seen, and it doesn’t only revolve around the horrors of the story, but also with the ethical pathos, which was expected from the priest who was tasked to perform the exorcism. Now that movie is scary even if you watch it in broad daylight. What’s even scary is when you actually find yourself waking up at 3 in the morning and remembering this movie. This kind of movies leave a lasting impression on its audience, and in some ways manages to even get into the audiences subconscious. That I think is a mark of a great horror movie.
For many, what usually distract the audience from being scared are the film’s visual effects. One good example is the Japanese version of The Ring compared to the American version. My sister managed to see the American version without seeing the Japanese one and it worked for her. However, me having seen the Japanese version first, I felt underwhelmed with how the horror was presented in it, not because I already knew what was coming, but it felt like there was a separation created by the visual effects from the main characters. Believe me, I have been as open-minded as possible to suspend disbelief but the effects didn’t really make it scary for me, but rather, it distracted me from the whole feeling of fear and suspense.
There are many good horror films from Asia, which to be honest, are made scarier because of the imagery they present. However, the scare factors of many Asian movies do not rely on imagery alone, but the horrors mainly come from the individual predicaments of the lead characters. Let me talk a bit about The Eye. The main character of this movie has been blind for a good part of her life. After she has had an eye transplant, things become really apparent first to the audience, before it actually made sense to the character. Imagine not being able to sense what is real and what is not because quite frankly, you are not used to seeing things, so she’s not sure if it is something to be scared about or not. The good thing about this is the audience knew, and because the character isn’t in a position to be able to tell an impending danger coming to her, it makes it an even scarier thought to the audience, which makes it a great cinema experience. I remember seeing this movie in an SM mall, with so many youngsters shouting their hearts out, not just because of the “jump-out-of-your-seats” scenes, but because of some of the turns the main character has to make due to uncertainties presented by her predicaments.
Another good horror film for me came not from afar but from our own catalog– Patayin Sa Sindak Si Barbara. There’s not much funny make ups here and there but evidently, there’s a really genuine feeling of fear, stress and hair-raising scenes in this one. I’m not sure if I’ll feel the same if I see it again, but I remember being scared to my wits seeing Dawn Zulueta’s ghost float over that pool to play with Antoinette Taus. Of course, this would not have a lasting effect if it weren’t for the brilliant performances of the actors who took part in this film. Also, you know that a great scare would come out of a highly-invested and motivated ghost. This is one for the books.
However, the real challenge now with the horror genre is finding new ways to scare your audience. Most horror movies nowadays fail to leave a lasting impression on its audiences because they mainly focus on jump scares, scary imagery and gore, which I think do not always make for an excellent horror movie. Every now and then we come across fun horror movies such as Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell or Leo Gabriadze’s Unfriended, but it is the thought-provoking ones, such as It Follows or The Babadook, that keeps the audiences paranoid and thinking even days after they’ve seen the film.
What are your favorite horror movies? Do you like how horror movies are made nowadays? Sound off your thought in the comments section.