Is *Mainstream* Horror Dead? -Opinion

The other night I was once again looking for a good horror movie to watch. Something I could either rent or was already free to stream on Amazon Prime. I settled on renting Final Destination 3. I didn’t make this decision because I’d never seen it before, in fact Final Destination 3 is my favorite one out of the entire 5 movie franchise for some reason. I also didn’t choose this because it was super cheap to rent, it wasn’t expensive either, to be fair it was like 4 dollars. I chose it because I knew already that I liked it and I would not be disappointed watching it even if I’d seen it before.

It’s not that great of a movie. Sure it’s well acted enough and the effects they use hold up to the test of time but there’s a lot of problems with it. Such as…

*SPOILER ALERT*

If Franklin gets off of the coaster when everyone is fighting and Wendy has that vision, how does the thing crash anyway? His camera was a huge reason why the coaster’s hydraulics broke and everything went off the tracks.

However, if you don’t think that hard and just want to have fun with some cheesy jump scares and some random or unique character deaths then yeah it’s a good watch. It’s entertaining. Just don’t pick it apart too much or think to hard and you’ll have fun. Even with as bad as it is, it still holds up from the time it was made (early 2000s) and it’s still good.

I believe there was ultimately a golden era of horror that has since ended. This would have started in the 1970s or so and ended in the early 2000s. Right around the time that two very important things happened with horror movies in American cinema. For one, after the success of The Ring, Hollywood decided they were basically going to remake every Japanese horror movie ever and not do it very well. Then, of course, there came the time period (which we are still in) that tons of production companies will cut down a very good R rated movie to a PG-13 rating (making it incomprehensible and boring) just so they can make more money from teenagers. Two very good examples of this problem can be seen in the remake of Pulse and the movie Stay Alive. Both of them have unrated director’s cuts and both of those director’s cuts make the movie a lot better and far more scary than their theatrical release cuts. There’s an entire scene removed from Stay Alive to keep it at a PG-13 rating that ultimately makes the movie make actual sense. With that scene removed from theatrical releases it really destroyed what the movie could have been.

We also have other prominent issues with horror from the 70s to the 2000s that would have made producing a horror film very different. One of those things is that practical effects would have been the most popular and go to effects to use. Not only because horror wasn’t a huge genre or even attractive when it first was around but because they were not given the money to use other technology and/or CGI didn’t exist. The good thing about this is that a lot of older horror movies hold up today because of their use of practical effects. A lot of movies that relied heavily on CGI for their horror even just 5 years ago already look stupid and laughable. As bad and good as Killer Klowns From Outer Space can be, the movie still nails the horrific look of the “Klowns” pretty damn hard because the makeup was all practical.

There was a period of time where directors could get away with certain things that they cannot get away today during filming. Like what Kubrik did to Shelly Duvall during the filming of The Shining. How a lot of children were overworked and over used because of lack of child labor and film laws colliding. The types of things they got away with to film movies like The Exorcist and the injuries endured by Linda Blair would ever, ever be a thing of today. Not that I’m saying people should be allowed to injure children to make horror movies, I am saying that there was a point where it was allowed which made the movies different and more intense. It’s one of the reasons The Exorcist and Poltergeist still hold up today. Different laws, practices, and standards.

To be fair, maybe going to the theater is a big part of the horror experience and what makes movies scary. However, at the same time I would say that can’t possibly be true. Some of the scariest movies I’ve seen have been at home because they were indie films (and this was well before the pandemic). Movies like Hell House LLC or Grave Encounters or the very, very unknown RWD. These movies were creepy, effective, and scary and they were all watched in my home on a small screen. Which proves that the theater going aspect may play into part of the atmosphere that makes a movie scary but it isn’t necessary if you ultimately have a good product to put out.

Over the time of the pandemic I have been trying to find scary movies. Anything scary. I have a subscription to Amazon Prime and Shudder. There are decent movies on both that I’ve never seen, are exclusive to their own platforms, and are new or indie. A great good deal of them are absolute crap. Almost anything recent is absolute crap. Is it due to the pandemic? Hardly. I am talking about movies made well before that point. Things made in 2015 and up. I’m not saying there were no good horror movies made between then and now (that were also mainstream) I am saying the vast majority of them were seriously bad. This is compared to if you look in the era I mentioned before. Anything between 1970-2000s (probably up to around 2005) was very good. The quality did start to wane in the late 90s but they were still cranking out more gems than crap.

Sometimes I do think that this problem of mine is because I’ve gotten older and more cynical. That because I want to make horror movies myself, and make them good, I have become jaded. Jump scares no longer work on me (as well as the vast majority of horror fans, no I am not special, plenty of people do not fall for jump scares anymore and just find them annoying) and I’ve seen so many horror movies that I can usually guess the ending. What will come next. They are filled with tropes, cliches, and plot points that are like a check list. One by one you can mark them off as they happen and in a lot of cases you can tell what’s going to happen next because they are following a playbook. This is why so often I look to indie horror. The reason being that even if an indie horror movie isn’t that good or could be considered downright “bad” it’s still watchable in a lot of ways.

I’ve seen at least two Amazon exclusive found footage movies that were somehow terrible and yet I couldn’t stop watching them? Which baffled even me. Cause I kept on commenting on how bad they were and yet I still wanted to get to end. I think this specifically has to do with the fact that when it comes to indie, a lot of the people are actually passionate about making the movies even if they suck. In a lot of ways you can feel the passion put into the film and there’s something different there that keeps you watching as opposed to if you just paid 15 dollars to see a theatrical horror movie that is the same level of shit. These two movies I’m thinking of, would have never been in a theater, nor will they ever be, and yet they are still more compelling and entertaining to watch than some of the big budget releases over the pandemic that have just been terrible.

What exactly is going on here? Other than the fact that it’s obvious that production companies are more interested in making money and playing it safe…have we lost the ability to make anything scary now? Is the problem just me? Am I the jaded one who is too picky about what horror is good and bad? Is this just an issue right now? Will there eventually be a production company that has the balls to put out new ideas? Feature new creators? Give budget to better ideas?

There is no lack of good horror ideas out there, you can find YouTube channels with short horror stories written by thousands of people that are far more creepy than actual movies you will see in theaters. What is going on with horror in the mainstream and what needs to change to get it back to where it was? Will anything like that ever happen? Or am I doomed to see yet another remake/reboot of a classic horror that never needed to be remade in the first place because all anyone cares about now is nostalgia dollars? Something needs to change and it needs to be soon because 1 movies being good out of every 100 is getting tiring. Maybe I really do need to stick with indie horror movies and just stay there for a good long while. Odds are always better that I’ll find something at least halfway decent.

Published by naudyvalentine

Romance and erotica author, horror and BDSM enthusiast, I write, live, and breathe variety as it is the spice of life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: