Sunday, 1 August 2010

Everything that's Wrong with the Contemporary Horror Film and How I'm Going to Save it


Remember in the mid 2000's when Channel 4 pumped out those '100 Greatest...' shows? Of course you do, as they seem to repeat them every three months on their various '4' channels. I happened to catch the 100 Greatest Scary Moments on E4 last night with the (thankfully) now under-exposed, Jimmy Carr. I love horror films. Ever since I was 12 and watched Scream 2 on a flight to Florida, I have been intrigued/terrified with the idea of 'horror' and the different forms it can take. This is why I spent the next 4 hours watching various spoilers from my favourite horror films, whilst Mark Kermode droned over the top of them saying how everything is to do with the fear of male rape.

The Shining was the overall winner, beating The Exorcist to the number 1 spot, which I full-heartily agree with. Even though it might not be the goriest horror film, or even the scariest, The Shining has something far more unnerving up it's bloody sleeve; the human brain. The best horror films don't just deal with monsters and demons, they delve into the most primitive thoughts of the human mind and, more scarily, into ourselves.

However, it was to my absolute horror that during the show I found myself flicking back and forth to Film4, where they were showing a recent British horror film called Donkey Punch (if you're over 18 and don't know the meaning of this, look it up). I, and probably several hundred other confused people, watched in absolute disbelief as six 20-something scumbags ran around a yacht throwing propellers at each other.

In order to try and salvage the horror movie industry single-handedly (that's right), I will now suggest 10 ways to save this dying genre:


1) Less evil children - Unless you're Stanley Kubrick or that guy who did The Exorcist, stop with the insanely clich├ęd 'kid who draws pictures of people with knives in their faces'. Generally the kid can't act so it just looks like a bad spoof.

2) Less gratuitous sex - Now that I'm over the age of 15, there is no need for a horror film to feature a sex scene with a big breasted woman. The looming threat of death doesn't really do it for me.

3) Less 'fake shocks' - It's cheap and obvious.


4) Less CGI - I don't think I have ever been scared by a CGI creature more than a film like The Thing or Evil Dead. The physicality of something, despite how cruddy it looks, is far more terrifying than something so obviously made in a computer.

5) Less Twists - You shouldn't rely on plot twists in a horror film, especially as we're all now looking for them (thanks a lot M. Night Shyamalan). The best horror films are the simplest ones.


6) More likable characters - Watch Donkey Punch and care for one of those characters. I dare you.

7) More suspense - Don't be afraid to keep the audience waiting for a scare, even if it takes an hour. If the scare is good enough, the audience will forgive you. See House of the Devil (2009) for a good example.

8) More gore - Might seem like an odd suggestion, but there is nothing wrong with a bit of old fashioned blood 'n' guts. It's amazing how many recent horror films cut away in order to get that 15 certificate.


9) More suffering on behalf of the actors - Sounds a bit sadistic but some of the best horror performances have resulted from tortuous film shoots - Shelley Duvall's frantic portrayal of Wendy in The Shining was due to 15 hour days and constant nagging from Kubrick.

10) More old women in bathtubs - Still can't watch that scene.

You're welcome Hollywood.

1 comment:

  1. I disagree with number 2 'full-heartily'. Or whole-heartedly.

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