Today’s Terrors

An Analysis of Horror in Film

Stevie Harper (Staff Writer)

Film is an integral part of our entertainment and our economy. We’ve come a long way from the origins of filmmaking amid the beginning of the twentieth century, when film was a silent, visual medium used to express the feelings of the artists about modern society. This is largely relevant to the world we live in, whereas now, our film industry has entered an age of new romanticism, where our movies are often an escape into a world very different from our own. Consequently, movies spend and make millions and billions of dollars.

One constant through the changing history of Hollywood is the existence of the horror genre, although it too has changed drastically. The first horror film, the 1922 Nosferatu, and the majority of horror films for many years afterward concentrated on a sort of worldly realism infused with an
otherworldly horror in an attempt to create an experience that viewers can identify with, along with a singular source of fear. Modern horror on the other hand, as apparent in the 2013 Evil Dead remake, creates a much more immersive experience by disobeying the rules and logic of our world completely and replacing them with an absurd, hellish landscape where nothing is identifiable or understandable. This is achieved through characters that make illogical or stupid choices, by impractical deaths or stunts, and by unrealistic or cartoonish, frivolous villains. There is no familiar foothold for a rational human except the armrests of the theater seat, leaving audiences to be fully assaulted by the insanity of the film product. Modern horror films are best experienced sitting under a cardboard box on cold asphalt in a rainstorm during November while wearing a speedo, with no familiar comfort to detract from the experience.

The full assault upon the senses of modern horror films, in comparison, make older and slower horror films such as Alien (1979) or The Thing (1982) seem comforting and accessible, constantly
giving the audience time to breathe and experience relief whenever the singular object of terror is not present. The improvement of the horror genre is a significant one, creating a much more overpowering experience.

The most significant example of the strength in modern horror is its parody, the Scary Movie franchise, specifically the 2013 sequel, Scary Movie V. It uses frivolous cultural references out of the blue, appearing for no reason, to constantly contradict the audience’s expectations. You think a ghost attacked Ashley Tisdale in her sleep. You’re wrong. In reality a ghost had already possessed her and she had spent the entire night humping a microwave and a houseplant. You think she’s about to confront the source of the evil, but in truth she finds either Christian Grey’s sex dungeon or Snoop Dogg with a shark. There are no rules in the world of the film, and in our rulefilled world, that’s the scariest thing of all.

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