Recently, I read an article by Cindy Zablockis asking “what ever happened to horror movies that actually scared [us]?”
I recently watched the latest version of Final Destination, not sure what number, I lost count. Within fifteen minutes I was bored. Nothing in the movie actually scared me or even had me on the edge of my seat. I haven’t felt that heart racing, eyes open wide as I wonder what will happen next for a long time while watching a movie.
Read the rest here.
An excellent question, really.
I can’t recall the last, recent horror movie that really scared me. Grossed me out, sure. Made me uncomfortable for all the wrong reasons, yep. But scared me? Left me having to sleep with the lights on? Nightmares?
Well maybe…no. Or…nope. Not that one either. Hmmm….
There’s The Walking Dead (not a movie but certainly movie quality and definitely horror). Some may feel zombies are so done they’ve lost their scariness (or they weren’t really scary in the first place). I can’t agree 100%. There’s still something pretty scream-worthy about dead folk getting up and coming after you. Still, not leave-the-lights-on-wake-up-in-a-cold-sweat kinda scary. Well, not for me.
The Sophia story line (last season) was frightening but not in the way I expect from horror. It was more the everyday, parental type fear. We parents want to protect our kiddos from everything but
we fear we know we can’t. That’s truly scary but it’s not the bump-in-the-night kind.
Then there’s Dexter (also not a movie and more dark-comedy/thriller than horror). Jonathan Lithgow as the Trinity Killer in Season 4 scared me. He was just so convincing. *shudder* And elements of Dexter himself scare me plenty. So maybe that counts.
It’s not that horror movies have never scared me. Some movies, which shall remain nameless (*cough* Exorcist *cough*), I’ve only ever watched once. That was enough. Michael Meyers and Mrs. Voorhees gave me plenty of sleepless nights. Poltergeist, while I can appreciate it now for its excellent writing and compelling drama, has left a lasting mark (can you really say “tv snow” without shuddering, even if it doesn’t exist anymore?). While relatively cheesy now, the original Dawn of the Dead almost left me scarred for life (which may explain my current fascination with zombies). And let’s not even talk about Jaws.
But all the stuff that’s been produced in recent years just doesn’t seem as scary.
Maybe I’ve outgrown the monster in the basement…*attempts to keep a straight face* *fails miserably* Nah, I have a very sick inner older-brother who can talk me into some near pants-peeing moments.
So maybe it’s the writing that’s changed. Maybe screenwriters have forgotten how to tap into our fears (possibly because they’re too busy focusing on blood, guys and sparkly vampires).
But that leads to the question: what is scary anyway? Sure, there’s primal fears about the dark, the unknown, our mortality and what makes us human versus inhuman. But what’s scary also has a lot to do with cultural ideas. What’s scary in one culture isn’t necessarily scary in another. So maybe it’s not so much that writers don’t have their finger on the pulse of scary as what’s scary has changed.
Then again, maybe we’re all so full of real life scary (the news, wars, extreme weather etc) that horror movie scary doesn’t phase us anymore. Maybe we’re failing the horror and not the other way around. And, if we’ve become so desensitized to horror that scary movies don’t do it for us anymore, what does that mean for us?
That’s kind of a scary question.
Of course, what’s scary varies from one person to the next. So maybe it’s just some of us that aren’t getting their scary fix with the greatest of ease.
Actually…I do remember a recent horror flick that did the trick for me. Paranormal Activity. Yep, its scare efficiency took me by surprise too.
What do you think? Are horror movies still scary? If not, why not? What was the last horror flick (or book, story, show etc) that actually scared you?
Image Attribution (In Order of Appearance):
Image via amctv.com (fair use)
opening the door by twenty_questions, on Flickr CC BY-NC 2.0
- Watch This Not That (starsinhereye.wordpress.com)
- 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Horror Movies (INFOGRAPHIC) (manolith.com)
- What You Fear Most (mrmovietimes.com)
- Our Say: Why we love zombies (mercurynews.com)
- Don’t Write That!!!!! (curleduptoes.wordpress.com)