Psycho, that has slowly become the horror genre. Movies

            Psycho, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser; these are
only a few examples of horror movies that have defined the genre as a
respectable one.  These are titles that
have withstood the test of time and have been labeled as iconic and classics.  In the movie industry of today there are
still titles that manage to surpass expectations and rise above the cesspool of
rot that has slowly become the horror genre. 
Movies such as Oculus, Sinister, The Babadook, and The Conjuring are a
few honorable mentions which have been successful in capturing and effectively
manipulating the key points of horror which adequately bring the genre to
life.  These are also titles that, even
though some of the best horror movies of this generation, pass as underrated
due to the lack of cinematic appreciation that is killing the genre.  Modern horror movies have a tendency of
following a refurbished and often ineffective formula, causing good techniques
to fall into obsolescence, and desecrating the art of horror cinema for the
sake of profit. 

            Horror movies today tend to zealously follow an
ineffective formula and rely solely, or at least mostly, on the jump scare
technique.  A movie series that is well
known for seeking to startle their audience with loud sounds and making them
twitch in their seats as a result is the Paranormal
Activity series.  The jump scare
technique is the cheapest in the box of tricks that the horror genre is known
for.  Horror movies often require a jump
here and there; most times, when performed appropriately, it can be very
effective.  Yet, there is a problem when
it is overused.  The futility of this
lies behind the fact that to carry out a good jump scare the right tension must
be built, it must be provoked by a potential danger instead of just a loud
noise, and it must not be used too frequently. 
All of these points are not considered by the Paranormal Activity series; instead, these movies rely on jump
scares in any scene they can cram them into thus failing in the building of
tension, they tend to be provoked for the sake of comical relief before the
actual horror of the movie take place, and in turn waste the little potential
energy for fright that was built during the short period of underdeveloped
tension. 

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            The ineffective formula that horror movies often follow
not only gives little room for much needed development but, because it has been
seen so many times before, it keeps the audience from connecting to characters
and/or the story.  This formula was expertly
portrayed and mocked by the 2012 satiric horror film The Cabin in the Woods. This movie was underappreciated precisely
because of its satiric nature.  The Cabin in the Woods presents the
underdeveloped story of a group of college students, fitting the roles of the
whore, the athlete (jock), the scholar (smart guy) the fool (in this case a
stoner), and the virgin, spending a weekend in a cabin in the woods.  The story goes deeper when the audience is
introduced to the organization controlling environmental factors surrounding
these young adults and the fact that these people are trying to kill the main
cast in an effort to appease elder gods. 
These elder gods are symbols for the very audience watching the film,
and their rising at the end of the movie is a mere prediction of the audience’s
dissatisfaction with the ending. 
Ironically enough, in film, the elder gods rise because the fool did not
die; perhaps the audience would have enjoyed the movie more if he had perished.

            The Cabin in the
Woods  might have approached one of
the issues surrounding horror movies today in a satiric manner, but there are
others that take the formula to heart and seriously make the movie revolve
around it.  The 2017 horror film Wish Upon was one of the many to fall
victim to this unfortunate phenomenon. 
It follows the predictable formula of putting a shallow teenager in a
situation of peril through her own wishes; in turn, it fails to deliver a good
horror experience and connect with the audience.  In fact, due to its high predictability the
viewer would find him or herself accurately guessing the outcome of every
situation for the entire duration of the film; from her vengeful wish on the
class whore that picks on her, to her night stalker which turns out to be the
guy she wished to fall “madly” in love with her, and to the death of one of her
best friends as it was stated that every wish she made required a sacrifice of
blood.  The tiresome pattern kept the
movie from even grasping the major key points that compose true horror.          

            The previously stated mistakes of horror movies are only
a mere introduction to all the issues that, along with the lack of
appreciation, are driving old and still effective horror techniques into
disuse.  One of these old techniques is
the proper manipulation of some of the main components of horror such as
disgust, tension, uncanny, mystery, and fear. 
Even though often it occurs that good horror movies do get good reviews
in the internet from professional critics, the mass opinion of the general
audience is greatly influenced by immature and unappreciative expectations.  These expectations are usually set by the
movies marketing strategies which do not always go hand in hand with what the
movies actually are, but the lack of appreciation for the cinematic arts are
based on years upon years of diminishing interest in the intellectual
capability of movies.

            A very small percentage of the modern audience cares for
the artistic, intellectual, and psychological implications of good horror.  Ben Kuettel says in his article “Horror
Movies: An in Depth History and Analysis” that people who watch these kinds of
movies are not looking for a compelling and complicated story or character
development.  That, as a matter of fact,
is one of the biggest problems since in order for fear to take place the
audience has to somehow relate to what they are watching, character and story
development is required for this to happen. 
Secondly, the audience dismisses the movie as not horror for not having
enough jump scares; when a horror movie fails to scare an individual for one
reason or the other the person fails to see the elements of horror objectively
and does not see the potential that the movie had to scare another viewer.  Consider horror movie fans that have grown
mostly immune to the scare tactics of horror movies.  Is the movie no longer horror because it
fails to scare certain people?  Ben
Kuettel also states in his article that the horror genre dares to push the
boundaries of societal convention; although this is true, the norm in horror
movies of today is to stick to what society thinks they should be for the sake
of cashing in on the titles as much as possible before the audience realizes
they are watching trash.

            For the sake of turning a profit, the producers nowadays
desecrate the art behind creating a horror film.  Sadly, it is because of this that good horror
movies have to use a dishonest marketing technique in order to attract viewers.  Films such as The Babadook and El Laberinto
del Fauno(Pan’s Labyrinth) presented themselves as creature feature movies
when in reality the true horror behind them was more psychological; viewers
left the theater dissatisfied and wishing to see more of the monsters rather
than enjoying the depth of the mental horror portrayed in the films.  The problem of greed and lack of development
go hand in hand since movies are not given room to develop as they are forced
to cover an entire story in the frame of an hour and a half.  Movies such as Silent Hill: Revelations was a victim of this tragic phenomenon and
failed to live up to its predecessor; this film had so much potential that was
butchered because one can only fit so much into such a short time frame.  Instead of prolonging the movie to create a
greater sense of dread and horror, such as the original Silent Hill did, the producers and directors rushed through the
entire movie.  This of course is done in
order to play the movies more times in a single day thus having more viewers in
a day and making more profit. 

            Lastly, producers stick to pursuing bad ideas because
they are cheap and “milk” movies that were good and original because it is a
safe way to attract an audience.  Not
much needs to be done but to check the list of horror movies in Netflix in
order to see, just from the titles, how even thinking of creating those films
is an insult to horror.  This is not a
case of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” 
To provide a few examples: Wolf
Town, Zombie Nation, Cheerleader Massacre, and others like these can be
found in Netflix along with Gingerdead
Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver.  On
the other hand, some movies that turn out to be trash need only the name of the
movie they are “milking” in order to attract an audience.  Movies such as Annabelle only had to say, “Before the Conjuring,” in the trailer to
flood the theaters.  This is a clear
example of how producers and directors care very little about soiling the name
of a masterpiece in order to make money. 
It has happened with classics like Friday
the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Scream.  This also happens
with bad movies if they were somehow successful which explains why the Paranormal Activity series turned out to
release six movies before that horse finally died.  It would not be surprising if someone tried
to bring that abomination back to life; after all, it made $879,715,640
worldwide.  

            The Horror genre is one of the most,
if not the most, diversely capable in the film industry.  There is a meticulous science and an art
behind the creation of good horror and it involves taking various factors into
consideration and not just throwing in a couple of jump scares and naked girls
into a screen.  The director has to take
into consideration that tactics that he or she uses to impact the audience; the
time frame, how to adequately fit the story into the time frame, and how doing
so will affect the movie, and how to approach the viewer’s expectations.  All of this must be done without engaging in
dishonest exposure like trailers that show the film being something that it is
not, without “milking” off of original ideas but instead formulating new ideas
that top the work that has been previously done, and without sacrificing art
and quality for money.  If producers,
directors, and the general audience continue to disregard these critical issues
in the industry the horror genre will continue to decline until it is reduced
to a joke.