Connect with us

Editorials

Hey Horror Fans! We Have to Talk About Your Elitism

Today marks the 20th anniversary of David Fincher’s phenomenal thriller/horror Se7en, which featured the amazing cast of Brad Pitt, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, R. Lee Ermey, and Kevin Spacey. It’s a movie that has withstood the test of time, one of those rare 90’s films that doesn’t feel dated or any less relevant as time as passed.

However, there are many horror fans who adamantly state that the film is not horror and I just don’t get it. It’s a serial killer that offs people based on the seven deadly sins. It’s gory, it’s horrifying, and it’s got an ending that still haunts people to this day.

In fact, it’s not just Se7en. There are a slew of other incredible films that are apparently “not horror”, according to comments I’ve received based on my “What are the Most Beautiful Horror Films?” piece. Many people wondered why I put The Cell and Pan’s Labyrinth of the list when there were far more “appropriate” choices.

And you know what? This whole “it’s not horror” argument? It’s bullshit. It’s childish, melodramatic, and, worst of all, it fucks over us horror fans. Your need for purity is what is ultimately proving that horror is “bottom of the barrel” material. You disassociate from that which is intelligent and thought provoking so as to embrace the tried and true. Instead of accepting and embracing that films like Silence of the Lambs are horror ON TOP of being a psychological thriller, you’d rather push it to the side and laud films like Friday the 13th or Hostel, which are great films in their own right but they lack subtlety. A movie like Pan’s Labyrinth deals with conceptual horror while Friday the 13th deals with overt horror.

I was talking about this phenomenon with two other BD writers: Kalyn Corrigan and Daniel Baldwin. The three of us were all on the same page about our frustrations with this attitude. After all, why push a film out of the horror label when it could add some sense of validation to the genre? Some films can add such rich dimensions to horror and prove that us horror fans want more like it if we only embrace it. Daniel said something that wonderfully describes horror, saying that it’s “infinitely malleable”. It can be applied to drama, romance, sci-fi, comedy, action, etc…

I think it comes down to expectations. Many of us go into theaters expecting to get scared and then leave disappointed when we’re not. But that doesn’t mean a film isn’t horror! For example, I saw Sinister in theaters and never got truly scared. Sure, I jumped at the lawnmower scene (who hasn’t?) but I never once felt a sense of dread or concern for the characters on the screen. Does that mean that Sinister isn’t horror? Of course not! It’s 100% a horror film!

Look, I can understand why some of you may think that Pan’s Laybrinth isn’t a horror movie, even though I respectfully disagree. But The Cell? Really?! It’s packed to the brim with some of the most inventive and insane horror visuals I’ve seen in a movie and the story is pretty damn interesting, even though the full execution may be a bit lacking. The whole premise made it possible to show multiple full-fledged nightmares realized on the screen. Just look at this clip and tell me it’s not a horror film.

You know what the real problem is? When many horror fans are given something smart that isn’t overflowing with gore and viscera, it’s “not horror”. But then those same people complain that horror is too dumb and panders to the lowest common denominator. Guess what? You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Embrace horror movies that aren’t all about monsters/zombies/axe wielding psychopaths/creatures/whatever. Horror can be cerebral. In fact, that’s when it’s the most effective. It shouldn’t take an axe for fear to get into your head.

panslabyrinthgif



AROUND THE WEB


COMMENTS

203 Comments
  • parsyeb

    Nothing much to get worked up about. Genres are elastic, but certain films get attached to the genre’s core characteristics more than others. Pan’s Labyrinth is predominantly a fantasy film for me, but features elements that come out of horror. Whether or not the label gets put on it is up to the viewer (or Netflix genre-diviner). I think the only genre that gets a pass in this regard is horror-comedy (Phantasm 2 isn’t really much of a horror movie, but is more of an action movie, but would never be put anywhere but in the horror section).

  • Shayne McGuire

    I seem to get into this argument a lot. I think it just boils down to what actually scares you personally – me? Exorcism movies scare the living fuck out of me, Emily Rose ruined my life. I have no shame when it comes to being terrified during movies, that’s what the genre is there for. Most horror films have that stigma that the films need to be filled with jump scares, paranormal entities or tons of gore for them to be considered horror – when really even a film like Prisoners (with Hugh Jackman) could be considered horror in some peoples eyes because something like the horror of a child going missing could truly affect people. The whole thing is very subjective if you ask me. I have a horror tattoo collage going on my back and so far I have Alice Cooper’s eyes, Michael Myers and my most recent addition is Beetlejuice. I took a lot of shit for the Beetlejuice one because people kept saying “but he’s not horror.” Well to me, horror comedy IS part of horror and the film is filled with iconic horror imagery. Like I said, it’s very subjective. I completely see why this irks you, I go through it a lot.

  • Killer_Tapir

    Is it elitism or is the exact opposite? It’s almost like horror fans have a self esteem issue, where anything critically acclaimed outside of the horror community ‘must not really be horror’.

    I think sometimes there’s a perception that horror is looked down upon that it results in this defensiveness against and derision of the mainstream. I guess that happens with all niche communities though giving rise to an ‘us vs them’ elitism.

    • Very interesting idea! Hmm…

    • RidleyScottIsADirector@gmail.c

      Not at all. Lots of horror fans just think something has to be schlocky or that it has to scare you to be horror.

      I used to love it when somebody would embrace horror with me, or said that they love Alien, because it was rare. But horror is mainstream now, and EVERYBODY loves Alien now. Horror is at the place in society I always wished it would be at. I mean, THE WALKING DEAD. I need not say more.

      It’s nice.

  • wehoaks

    This article is so perfect. These are the same people that think violence and blood and sex are the be all end all of horror yet cry when it’s not taking seriously. You said everything perfectly. Add the whiny fucks who think good horror can’t be PG-13 and the article is complete.

    • TheSlitheryDee

      I think good Horror can be rated just about anything. Just hate when it’s under R because it ruins the theatrical experience.

      • wehoaks

        That’s a fair and valid point. I always avoid the first two weekends with PG-13 horror.

  • RidleyScottIsADirector@gmail.c

    SILENCE OF THE LAMBS CAN’T BE CONSIDERED A HORROR FILM, IT WON OSCARS. DUHHHHHHHEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRbuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaaaa.

    • dangerzone79

      The Exorcist.

      • RidleyScottIsADirector@gmail.c

        Yup, that is the name of a horror movie that won Oscars.

    • J Jett

      THE FOG remake should totally have one an Oscar. it’s one of the best horror movies ever……………(joking!). 🙂

  • Roberto Ciamora

    The elitism I’ve always noticed comes from the opposite direction. Folks who don’t generally like horror films have to find new ways to describe films about Cannibals and Serial Killers when they find one they actually like.

    The best of all time was when snobby mainstream critics insisted that “The Sixth Sense” was not a horror film, it was a “Supernatural Thriller”. It’s amazing the kind of bullshit people can trick themselves into believing.

  • Blade

    Whenever somebody says a movie isn’t horror just because there is not a lot of gore/blood just remind them that the first Halloween movie pretty much had no blood in it, and then ask them if its not a horror movie because of it. There answer should be an interesting one lol

  • J Jett

    anyone who says the movie SE7EN isn’t horror is delusion or just willfully ignorant. that movie IMO is the perfect example of horror. in fact it’s a movie that is WAY too much for me to watch. i’ve seen the movie once and it was an excellent, amazing film but it freaks me out TOO much to back for repeated viewings. lol.

  • J Jett

    oh i forgot…i fucking hate it when horror movie fans go….”YOU’RE NOT REALLY A TRUE HORROR FAN BECAUSE YOU DON’T LIKE (or you do like) ______ (fill in whatever movie you want)”.

    • wehoaks

      TRUE FAN shit is the worst.

      • J Jett

        wehoaks, right?! it totally bugs me when people do that.

        • wehoaks

          It’s never a shock that it’s always complete morons who spout that shit.

      • I Am Colossus

        Shut the fuck up wehole

    • kelly

      THIS. SO MUCH THIS! I get the “fake horror fan girl” bs from people sometimes. Admittedly, folks don’t expect me to be fan based off of my bubbly exterior and choice of clothes, but I’ve loved horror flicks since I was a kid. No one should have to “prove it.” I hate that sort of elitism. I want more people to go with me to horror movies, not discourage them.

    • This is what bothers me a lot more than people categorizing or refusing to categorize things.

      I’ve had many horror fans call me a non-true horror fan because I don’t like Halloween and find The Exorcist overhyped, and it pisses me the hell off. I’m all for having critical discussions, but when petty counterarguments like that are brought up, it makes me hate the horror community.

    • ㅌVㅇㄴVㅌ

      Horror fans aren’t the only ones that do that. It seems to be a common trait among a lot of genre fans. And I agree, it’s bullshit.

  • Winnipeg Marijuana

    No offense Jonathan, but you seem to have a chip on your shoulder, and I’m not sure why.

    When I first saw the movie Se7en,I’d actually never heard of it until my ex’s son rented it. Watched it, and enjoyed it – and that’s it. Never really gave it a second thought. I didn’t consider it horror then, and I don;’t consider it horror now. So what? I don’t have to categorize every single movie/piece of media that I consume in order to be able to enjoy it.

    I also don’t have a need for people to accept my love of the horror genre or to accept my categorizations of any movie. I also don’t need my films to have subtelty, purity or to be intelligent. Some times I like to, you know….escape.

    The fact that I don’t consider Se7en a horror film shouldn’t detract from your enjoyment of it, should it?. If you think it’s a great horror film, then it *is* a great horror film to you. But why does the genre need any validation at all? Horror is, has been and will continue to be.

    I’ve seen ‘smart’ horror films, and I’ve seen ‘dumb’ horror films. I enjoy both. For me, I think horror is the most effective when I can’t get it out of my head; whether it be cerebral or gore laden, intelligent or dumb, serious or humour filled.

    You know what I thought was a horror film; Backyard Ashes. I rented it based on the title alone without even looking at the VOD description. Nope, not even close to a horror film – but a damn good one nonetheless. Give it a try if you’re so i inclined. And if you do think it’s a horror film that’s ok. If you don’t, or if you don’t even like the film, that hasn’t lessen it for me at all.

    respectfully

    WMM

    • This isn’t really about enjoyment, though. It’s about horror fans pushing away titles because they think it doesn’t fall under the “horror” title. As a result, it makes the genre appear simple and without complexity, intelligence, or insight. I’m all for people making their own labels but to adamantly state that a movie isn’t horror simply because that’s their own opinion and that’s all that matters is a shame and a detriment.

      Horror CAN be smart. It CAN be witty. It CAN offer more than what critics expect it to have. But it’s up to us fans to embrace and laud those characteristics, not denigrate them.

      Regarding “Backyard Ashes”, are you referring to the sports comedy? Because I’m not sure how that relates to this topic, although I’m keen to hear your thoughts on that!

      • Are you fighting for some sort of “public perception” for a made-up group of fans who like Horror, like we’re all gathered together through some invisible bond? Nobody cares about if you think Se7en is a horror film…

        Just because I want the Horror genre to be more respectable, it doesn’t imbue me with the right to give The Shawshank Redemption that genre, even if I am horrified by what Andy had to go through in prison… Is it scary being wrongly accused and sentenced to life in prison? Sure. But does that make it a Horror movie? No.

        • Christensen

          There’s a difference between the “scariness” of being wrongfully accused of a crime and sentenced to jail and the scariness of a horrific portrayal of death and the sick mind of a psychopath (ala Seven). One isn’t a primal horror emotion and the other is. This is pretty obvious. Try harder.

          • Try harder? How about come earlier to a conversation. You’re about 3 months late, brosef… Don’t go dredging up old conversations, it’s bad manners.

            As for your point of “horrific portrayals of death,” that’s a highly subjective argument… For one thing, we don’t see a majority of these killings, only the aftermath. The horror is always shown to us at a distance, and we’re never forced to endure any of it through the characters. All of the conflict is communicated to us through the usual cop drama cliches (i.e: chasing the bad guy down an allyway, finding out about how the bad guy was getting away with his crimes, driving the bad guy out into a desert). When they’re investigating a crime scene, that isn’t dramatic tension being raised, that’s a slideshow; a presentation of what had already transpired… Now, if Spacey had kidnapped one of the cops and tortured him, or made him watch him kill someone, I might buy your argument.

          • Christensen

            may be 3 months late but you’re ready to jump right back in with a new dose of pretentiousness !

            “When they’re investigating a crime scene, that isn’t dramatic tension being raised, that’s a slideshow; a presentation of what had already transpired” that would be CSI.

            Seven has a horrific, unsettling tension and atmosphere throughout. It doesn’t come across as merely a crime investigation thriller because of this, and clearly I’m not the only one who thinks so. And the sloth victim scene is especially scary in a typical horror movie way. The emphasis in the film isn’t even on who is doing this or the crime procedural elements, it’s on the horrific nature of the crimes.

            Still though, I would consider it a crime thriller first and a horror film second. But to negate the obvious horror feel and elements is so ignorant.

          • Pretentiousness? No, I just know I’m right.

            Look, just because David Fincher uses a grungy filter, and it’s raining, and he has a composer put on dramatic sounding music, doesn’t mean it’s a scary movie. I MIGHT be pursuaded to call it “creepy,” but that’s about it. It’s about as creepy as something like There Will Be Blood, where the main horror is a man’s character, and one could argue that it’s a horror story of man and his greed… but let’s not get up our own asses here. It’s a drama with thrilling elements to it, and that’s the point. It defies conventional genre categorization.

            As for Se7en, it’s perhaps “horrific” in a body dismemberment sort of way, but like I said before, that happens in a number of different detective shows and movies, and yet none of them are considered horror movies… So then what’s the cutoff point? Is it just the gore? Or just the way in which the bodies are depicted? That’s way too vague of a factor in deciding the genre of a film. The saying goes, “the devil is in the details,” because you can distort facts to suit your purposes.

            The only thing that makes people consider this a horror film in any capacity is due to the way it’s shot… but there’s a difference between shooting a horror movie and shooting a cop film like a horror movie. It all has to do with substance and tension. You may feel tension from seeing a dead body, but that’s not dramatic tension in terms of film-making. Dramatic tension in films boils down to putting the main character in danger, and in deciding if this is a horror film or not, that tension needs to feel primal, like you could die at any minute.

            Take a film like Alien, for example (which the 3rd one, directed by Fincher, felt more like a drama than a horror film, ironically enough). There is constant dramatic tension on that ship, because somewhere there’s an alien that’s trying to kill you. That is primal tension that you can feel, and the main character is in constant danger from that threat…

            In Se7en, it’s true that there is a threat from a serial killer, but it’s not a primal threat that you can feel, and it’s nothing the main characters have to deal with directly (until the very end, and even then it’s more like a “surprise!” moment that ends as soon as it gets there). It’s more like playing a game of chess where it’s all very calculated and emotionally distant… and that’s not Horror. Horror submerges you in a state of primal fear that keeps you on the edge of your seat. You feel like you’re going to be killed. That’s what horror IS.

            Anyway, I’m done ranting. If you still don’t agree, whatever. Obviously we’re not going to agree so you may as well not even reply.

          • Christensen

            This “dramatic tension” you keep rambling about is a trait of thriller, not horror (google is your friend). “Edge of your seat” is also a term that describes thrillers. Thrillers are by definition tense and suspenseful films, horrors are scary and unnerving. Many films obviously happen to be both, but apparently not Seven! So by this brainfart of yours one might conclude that Seven is not even a thriller at all due to the complete lack of “dramatic tension” and the “edge of your seat” aspect. Stop talking out of your ass.

            At the end of the day you’re entitled to your wrong opinion, that’s fine.

          • You’re really testing my patience, dude… and you’re also mincing words here. “Dramatic tension” can be felt in ANY type of movie, whether it be horror or thriller, or even comedy.

            The point I was making (and what you seem to be deliberately not understanding) is that the DRAMATIC TENSION isn’t derived from trying to scare you, but by taking you through the drama of all the murders and what they meant. That’s not horror, since it’s relying on your intellectual senses, nothing primal.

            To explain it another way, in a romantic comedy, the dramatic tension would be derived from one of the leads being mean or a conflict arising out of a difference of opinion… For example, what we’ve got going on here. There’s all sorts of ways to show dramatic tension in a film, and its through those tensions that we derive different types of genres, which is why a lot of people don’t like watching horror movies, since it goes back to that “primal” dramatic tension I was telling you about.

            You can call my opinion “wrong” all you want, but that only serves to make you look incredibly closed-minded and foolish… Not least of which is because no opinion is “wrong.” Not even yours… though I do believe it’s unfounded as you’ve done nothing to prove your points, only shout out things that are blatantly untrue or based on opinion, such as the definition of “dramatic tension.” I use it as an aspect of film-making, you use it as a buzz word to attribute to one type of movie genre… which is incredibly stupid. Are you telling me there’s never been dramatic tension in any horror movie ever made? Would you say Se7en LACKS dramatic tension? If so, you just proved your argument wrong.

            Also, I wasn’t claiming that Se7en didn’t have dramatic tension, only that its tension wasn’t a result of putting the main characters in danger… which is an INTEGRAL part of what makes a horror movie! If you can’t understand that, I don’t know how else to explain it to you, other than to conclude that you have a learning disability, and I wish you good luck with that… It’s going to be a tough life for you.

          • Christensen

            yawn

            “DRAMATIC TENSION isn’t derived from trying to scare you” many people would argue, this is subjective.

            “I wasn’t claiming that Se7en didn’t have dramatic tension, only that its tension wasn’t a result of putting the main characters in danger” most thrillers put their main characters in danger… this is also a common thriller trait. Seven defies that since it focuses on the crime mystery aspect, but thrillers often feature endangered protagonist. you’re clearly very genre confused and a pretentious twat, which is fine, but take it easy why don’t you.

          • I suppose you feel incredibly strong and free to call people names when your profile is made private… Anonymity is the superpower of all Internet trolls, and you’re no different… Try to give me your personal Facebook information and we’ll continue to have this very authentic, very hostile argument. We’ll see if you continue to be this rude. Call it an experiment. I’ll wait for you here!

          • Christensen

            lmao what a petty sociopath weirdo you are. time for your meds

      • AJY84

        I agree with this article. The other night I watched “Secret Window” and said it was one of my favourite horror movies. I was told that it’s “not horror, but a dark thriller.” While I agree that it is a dark thriller, I also classify it as horror. I mean, the main character loses his mind, creates an alter ego, kills people, doesn’t remember doing so, and then comes to the realization that he has a dark side. Only to succumb to it, and murder his wife, her lover, and bury them in the backyard of his cabin. To me, that fits the bill as horror, but some see don’t see that.

  • Colby Cline

    Totally agree with everything. (Us) horror fans def pick and choose I have freinds who like to say this or that isn’t horror. Its funny though that most horror fans except “Serbian Film” as horror when it could fall under the latter just as easy as well. Pick and choose we do.

  • Flabbergasted

    How is The Cell not horror? Have you SEEN the horse scene? lol. I did not even know this was a thing. If someone doesn’t want to see an awesome movie like The Cell or Seven because they do not think it is a horror movie then that is their loss I say!

  • Rafael Buxo

    Seven is not an horror film, Deep red is.

    • Ryan Malcolm McGuinness

      They are both are horror films. Did you even watch Seven? It relies on we viewers using our imaginations.

      • Rafael Buxo

        Bored me as hell,and that obvious ending. Supermagical op killer,

        • Ryan Malcolm McGuinness

          So? You not not enjoying it doesn’t make it non horror. John Doe was very human. Just very clever and patient. Dario Argento has made some stinkers, but they are still horror.

        • Forgive me Rafael but this is EXACTLY what I was talking about regarding expectations and assigning genres based upon personal opinion. If you found ‘Se7en’ boring, perfectly fine! We’re all entitled to our opinions and I definitely won’t begrudge you yours. To quote Voltaire, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

          But your dislike of the movie doesn’t diminish the fact that it’s a horror film ON TOP of the other genres it utilizes to create its atmosphere and story.

          • Except you’re also using your bias as a means of “genre-fying” this film… Just because it made you feel “horrified” while watching it, doesn’t make it a horror film. It’s a Thriller… Now tell me exactly what is wrong with just calling it that?

        • wehoaks

          You’re full of shit. Next.

  • Mark P

    A simple rule that I use to qualify what I believe falls into my WIDE umbrella of the Horror genre is this…

    If suspense is used to build fear = Horror film.
    If suspense is used to build action = Thriller / Action film.

    Se7en, The Cell, Pan’s Labyrinth are all Horror films. They use images and action to evoke fear in the viewer.

    Films like the recent “No Escape” or something like Polanski’s “Frantic” are thrillers, as they propel forward with action related suspense.

    Additionally, I’d consider anything that subverts social norms to be on the fringes of Horror, or genre at the very least.

  • Siobhan Gavin

    I have watched them all, at the pics, and at home. Breaking the mould is hard now, I’m not gonna get into it now, but yes, I know horror. I’m an 70/80′ child. When new ideas were the new horror, it was all about how they made you feel. If you wern’t there, you don’t get it; and I have to explain it to you, you clearly wern’t there …….

  • Pete Wyse

    Horror is subjective surely? Underworld is considered a horror to some because “it has vampires and werewolves in it”, in which case so is *swallows* Twilight. Do I consider these horrors? Underworld no, but Twilight was a horrific experience. Let The Right One In… is that a horror? Also… whilst on the subject… what’s with movies only being allowed one genre? Shaun of the Dead is a horror (zombies), a romance AND a comedy!! If you want to go by the meaning of a word, horror is something that horrifies you. Se7en horrified me more than Evil Dead, more than Exorcist, and more than Friday the 13th.

    • Ryan Malcolm McGuinness

      The thought of watch Twilight again (or its sequels) fills me with utter dread and terror!
      But to be honest, no hating at the moment, but Twilight was more fantasy. Likewise Underworld. Classing them as horror is just lazy.

      Also, no vampires in Twilight. Vampires do not sparkle unless you sprinkle glitter on them first.

      Lastly Twilght was terrible.

      • Pete Wyse

        So… you enjoyed twilight then? do you have an opinion on my second favourite horror movie: iFrankenstein? Love that movie!!

        Keep your Se7ens, Evil Deads, Insidious-s? Insidi? Insidiouses?

        • Ryan Malcolm McGuinness

          Congrats. You will shortly face a duel tae the death with a six foot tall hairy Highlander who is now displeased with you.

          • Gadriel

            Och laddie, you’ve gat ma steel.

        • iFrankenstein was the best Horror film in the last decade… See, because it was so frightfully awful that it rocked me to my core.

    • You kind of shot yourself in the foot with Twilight there.

      And just because something “horrifies” you, doesn’t make it horror. That’s why there’s a genre called “Psychological Thriller.” It doesn’t have to take up a whole other genre needlessly just because you don’t think “Thriller” describes how you felt during the film well enough… I think if a film shakes you to your core psychologically without shoving tons of gore in your face or makes you feel claustrophobic in your own seat, that’s a Thriller. A Thriller is meant to THRILL you.

      • Pete Wyse

        Thrillers generally refer to the thrill of discovering something for yourself, in classic terms… a who-done-it. I’m not putting my own feelings on this (beyond the cheap jab at twilight) but simply using the definition of these words. Thrillers do indeed thrill, being scared isn’t generally associated with being a thrilling experience (except for horror fans). Likewise, horrors are supposed to horrify. Inside is a good example of a horror movie for me, personally. That movie horrified me in ways few movies manage. Se7en horrified me. If we rely on the idea that a horror movie should scare it’s audience, then I’ve never seen a horror movie. I just don’t scare, beyond jumps.

        • Um, I have news for you:

          Thriller: a novel, play, or movie with an exciting plot, typically involving crime or espionage.

          So yeah, this is a Thriller… End of discussion. Unless you’re saying a Crime film can’t ever be scary or have horrific themes in them, in which case that is awfully closed-minded of you.

          A Horror movie is more than just the themes that comprise it. It’s about the direction, about making you feel claustrophobic, about unseating your emotions in a way that is more than just “Wow, how could that guy murder all those people? He’s insane.” I’m sorry, but a serial killer doesn’t a Horror film make. Horror is not supposed to elicit a logical response. It’s supposed to elicit a primal one.

          I’ve been freaked out by Crime Thrillers in the past and have felt unsettled by Martin Scorsese’s films like Casino and Goodfellas… but that doesn’t make them Horror films.

          • Pete Wyse

            I can’t talk to anyone who uses the term “end of discussion”. Sorry.

          • Doesn’t invalidate my argument, so… later.

          • Vader the White

            Films can be more than one genre. In this very article, the writer says, “…Silence of the Lambs are horror ON TOP of being a psychological thriller…”. Thinking in narrow viewpoints is rarely a good idea.

      • Mark P

        “Psychological Thriller” = a term created by non-genre fans, to justify there enjoyment of Horror films. Just using the term feels dismissive, and insulting.

        Almost as bad as “elevated genre” films.

        • Are you saying the term “Psychological Thriller” isn’t a valid term and there are no films that would fall under that categorization?

          • Mark P

            I’d argue that they way “psychological thriller” used by most, would not qualify as a genre on its own. Generally, when it is used by most moviegoers, they are referring to horror films.

          • I doubt that very much… and if they are, they’re just proving how ignorant they are of movies in general.

          • Mark P

            Ever since 1991, when Silence of the Lambs became a mainstream hit, many horror films were marketed as “psychological thrillers” in an attempt to attract an audience that wouldn’t do traditionally go to “horror” films.

            In the 90’s, countless serial killer films, following Silence, which a decade earlier would have been released as Horror, were marketed as “thrillers”.

            Near the end of the 90’s, a movie like The Sixth Sense, suddenly went from a horror film, to a “supernatural thriller”. Many that came in its wake were called the same.

            If you’re a fan of the genre, and an observer of Hollywood marketing, you cannot honestly argue that countless genre films were released, and marketed in a way that hid the “horror”, and treated it as a dirty word.

          • Gadriel

            Basically, if a horror movie is not too successful, then it’s a horror movie, but if it does well it’s a “psychological drama,supernatural thriller” etc.

            Much like certain bands are “heavy metal” when they do something bad or “influence a shooting” but when they do something charitable they are “kind hearted rockers”.

    • Rafael Buxo

      The City of God horrified me more than Seven. So City of God is horror.

      • Pete Wyse

        Grass is green, apples are green, so grass is apple? I think the difference comes from the way in which a story is told, not just the subject matter. Se7en could’ve been filmed in such a way that it wouldn’t be a horror, and City of God could’ve been filmed in a way that would make it a horror. If that makes sense? Dammit I’m questioning myself now. Okay so using Coraline as an example. The subject matter is actually terrifying when you think about it, but the visuals and nature of the movie prevent it being a horror. A good example is the recent Up horror trailer, which took a good wholesome movie and changed it in a way that made it look and feel like a horror movie.

        • I’m going to be calling this the “Showgirls” argument from now on. I believe it was in Scream… Ghostface asked the guy, “What’s your favorite scary movie?” and the guy said, “Showgirls. Scariest movie I’ve ever seen.” It’s a hilarious response, because we all get what he means… Before people discovered self-referential comedy, there were stinkers like Showgirls that showed us how truly bad something can be when it isn’t self-aware enough. Showgirls is a drama, formally speaking… but to a lot of people, it’s a goddamn comedy. Does that make them right, because we can look back on it with 20/20 vision and see how truly awful it is? No. But we can enjoy the movie as such. The same can be said about the recent The Visit. I enjoyed it as a comedy, but I would say it was meant to be a Horror film.

  • kmtb

    There’s a ton of movies I’d consider horror that most wouldn’t agree with. Jurassic Park series, Intersteller, Gravity, Gone Girl, Whiplash and Nightcrawler are all movies I think fit. Are they mainly horror? No, but they do share a lot with the genre.

    • Khy

      Agreed with Jurassic

  • Ridiculous

    Watching trailer of Se7en I see the point about agelessness, despite how young they look, all the actors, you can still see some 90’s stuff, like quality, but overall I would guess that the movie was made in some early – mid 2000’s . I just can’t remember watching it…or if I ever was watching it… I’m only 21 now, so it means I was born in ’94, but the movie must have been later on TV’s … yet I can’t remember. I think I will decide whether to watch it now or not…usually I’m lazy watching old movies that I haven’t seen at all.

    • KSE1977

      Dating myself, I saw Se7en the first time in my college movie theater, which was either in the fall of 95 or the spring of 96.

  • Derexploitation

    I too have never understood why a lot of people act like something has to be one thing or another. For example, ALIEN and THE THING are both horror and science fiction, and yet I’ve seen people argue that the extraterrestrial nature of the threat precludes them from being horror. A similar thought process applies to SE7EN and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS — somehow, serial killers are “thrillers” rather than horror because they aren’t supernatural (and yet, also-human monsters like Leatherface and the Hostel guys get a free pass). Daniel Baldwin hit the nail on the head with the “infinitely malleable” comment.

    I myself am more of a fan of the more “highbrow” films like THE EXORCIST, THE SHINING, and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS than the ’80’s slashers, but it’s a fine line to hold the horror genre to a higher standard without stretching the borders so much that it includes dramas that have dark elements but aren’t especially (or intended to be) scary.

    • Vader the White

      My favorite horror film as a teen was Alien and when I told some people that, they said that it wasn’t horror, it was sci-fi, which remains one of the dumbest things anyone ever told me.

      • GinsuVictim

        Alien – definitely horror.
        Everything else in the series – sci-fi.

        • Vader the White

          They are all horror to some extent, some with more focus on action than horror, but horror they remain. Also, sci-fi is more of a setting or a subsection of fiction. Name anything that can be purely described as sci-fi. You can’t, unless you look at the claims of anti-vaxxers.

        • KSE1977

          This, when I classify movies, at least in my head, I only classify the first Alien as horror, the rest as sci-fi. To my mind this makes sense. I can appreciate that others feel differently though.

        • Christensen

          Re-read Derexploitation’s post. Why does it have to be one or the other again? Alien is obviously sci-fi horror. It has all of the sci-fi elements and is in a sci-fi setting. How is it NOT a sci-fi horror??

          • GinsuVictim

            I never said it wasn’t sci-fi, just that it was the only one that was horror.

          • Christensen

            and the following 3 films weren’t…..how?

          • GinsuVictim

            2 – action with sci-fi
            3 – Fincher with sci-fi
            4 – abstract French film with sci-fi

            The first is pure horror with a sci-fi backdrop.

      • Micah Unice

        Scott himself has said on numerous occasions that he set out to tell a haunted house story on a spaceship. The horror label is very apropos.

  • Petey Pete

    uh yeah who cares. Yes they can be considered horror. No they do not represent the horror genre definitively.

  • I definitely agree that Se7en and similar films(Silence of the Lambs for starters) are justifiably labeled as horror, but if others don’t think so, that’s their subjective take. I even consider the Coens’ ‘No Country for Old Men’ to be right on the cusp of being a horror.

    The elitism in the Horror community that I find more common is when positive reception or rating for a ‘classic’ is questioned, the person questioning or challenging it is often lambasted or ridiculed for trying to discredit a deemed masterpiece.

  • WalkingDeadGuy

    I completely agree with you, Jonathan. Other films I would add to the list where horror fans have trouble accepting into the genre are ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’, ‘Under the skin’, ‘The Road’ and dare I say it…’The hunger games series’.

    • LOVE Martha Marcy May Marlene. And I agree that it is totally a horror movie.

    • KSE1977

      ugg, you lost me on the Road, which I have decided is part of a new genre called “Super Depressing” 🙂

  • Josh Cline

    It’s the same thing with metalheads. Being a major fan of both, it get exhausting to see all of the bickering of “That’s not metal enough!” and especially what you mentioned in this article. Let’s let these genres grow and evolve from what they have always been. Classic definitions don’t disappear just because someone tries something different.

    • GinsuVictim

      I feel ya on the metal elitism.

    • Blade

      Its also this way with Hip-Hop too. Major elitism and “That’s not REAL hip-hop” comments lol it is pretty annoying

  • CTHL

    This article isn’t horror.

  • Billy Pop

    Lol. One of those articles where if my dad read it he’d just be confused as to why people are even discussing this. Hahaha

  • Keelee von Cupcake

    I do the opposite of this! I will defend that the type of horror films you mention (such as The Silence of the Lambs and Black Swan) are ABSOLUTELY horror films to my DYING BREATH. It’s like the minute something from my beloved horror genre gets any sort of critical acclaim or widespread acceptance, it’s suddenly not really “horror” anymore. Now THAT is elitism. I won’t have it – they can’t take some of our best films away from us just because they can’t appreciate the other films we embrace. Horror is full of wonderful and intriguing variety!

  • Kevin Cline

    Sooo, I’ve been addicted to horror films for about 40 years now and I can really appreciate this discussion. Horror truly lies in the eye of the beholder. One fans collection can be completely different from the other. Horror films that I truly love do different things for me and many of them change over time as I continue to view them. They will many times fill me with dread, anxiety and even panic. Some are disgustingly beautiful, unsettling or even revive childhood traumas. After 50 viewings they may simply be nostalgic and bring me feelings of comfort or happiness. Having loved horror for as long as I have, I learned to appreciate the good years, and these past few years have been great for horror. We have multiple television series, great films and short films of all kinds. As fans we must learn to appreciate this. Love YOUR horror! Turn off the lights and share it with a friend. Don’t judge your fellow fan, encourage them, educate them and occasionally scare the hell out of them.

  • LastCubScout

    To categorize a film, I believe you should look at its intent, its soul, its essence – what the film’s purpose is. I would never categorize “Seven” as horror, because, at its core, I believe it is a murder mystery. It has horrific elements, but the story it wants to convey is the solving of a crime, while making some comments about contemporary society. “Halloween” is also a story of a guy murdering people, but I’d call that a horror movie because that film wants to scare people or make audience members uneasy as its main purpose more than it wants to tell the story of trying to capture a murderer. It has nothing to do with a film being solely gory or visceral. It’s the intent, or raison d’etre.

    For instance, “Young Frankenstein” is the story of a scientist trying to resurrect the dead through supernatural means. That might qualify as a horror film, but the film’s intent is to parody and make you laugh. The horror elements are there, but that’s not the film’s intent. Or in the above example of “Sinister”, it may fail to scare you or make you uneasy, but that was its intent, so that would classify it as a horror film regardless if it succeeded to do so.

    The problems come from where people decide to draw that line on where the weight of the intent is. With a romcomzom like “Shaun of the Dead,” does it want to tell an exciting story of people in a stressful situation fighting for their survival against supernatural forces, or does it want to make you laugh? Like, both? You have to classify it as horror-comedy because its intent is so close to 50-50.

    • Christensen

      Seven also had several scenes/an atmosphere throughout that clearly INTENDED to horrify the viewers and make them uneasy. It’s a horror thriller.

      and i guess the exorcist is not a horror movie then

      • LastCubScout

        Sure, I just think the majority of the film is more concerned with the crime solving and the neo-noir atmosphere. If there was more of a concentration of the actual crimes – if the audience actually got to see the torturing of the victims – I might agree that “Seven” is more horror.

        “The Exorcist” I probably would classify as horror because the weight of the film seems to concentrate on the suffering of this little girl at the hands of a supernatural force.

        • Christensen

          a horror film doesn’t have to be torture porn to be a horror movie, it just has to be scary, by the DEFINITION of a horror movie. i mean obviously Seven is not primarily a horror film but this has nothing to do with its lack of torture scenes.

          • LastCubScout

            Again, I believe the categorization lies in the film’s main purpose. “Seven” has many intense scary parts, but I don’t believe its main point is to be scary. I believe its main purpose is to tell a crime-solving story with overtones of social commentary. If the story threw the crime -solving in the background and concentrated mostly on scenes of horror, I would sense that the weight of the film wanted to horrify more than it wanted to tell a crime solving story, but that wasn’t the case.

          • Christensen

            Yeah and I also never said it was PRIMARILY a horror film.

  • Dr. Storm Crow

    According to Webster’s:
    Horror, noun, something that causes fear, disgust or dread.
    With that in mind, Seven is super horror. Young Frankenstein is also to a degree, if only for philosophical reasons (man playing God.)
    The nature of horror is rooted in the nature of conflict, which is the truest core of the nature of story itself. As long as there is adversity, there is potential for dread. So, along those lines, horror is the truest genre of film, for it is Promethean beyond the broadest scope of human reckoning. Horror is in all things, it surrounds and binds us.
    Really, the question should be, “what is not horror?”

    • LastCubScout

      Now see, I look at the film’s core, and I don’t see “Seven” as horror. It may cause horror by Webster’s definition, but I think “Seven”s essence is a murder mystery. You could shift the balance to horror, if you concentrated on the experiences of the victims and shove the detectives’s experiences and storylines into the background. But, I give more credence to what the film is trying to be, rather than the effect it ends up having. By Webster’s definition, “Paul Blart Mall Cop 2” is horror because it caused many people dread and disgust, but its intent was a comedy, so it really shouldn’t be classified as horror!

      • Db

        This is a valid argument. On some days, I’d agree with you. On other days, I’d say, “it doesn’t matter what the artist intended – it matters only how the art makes you feel”, and in the case of Se7en, for me, it’s mystery/horror/thriller.

      • concerned citizen

        Friday the 13th is a murder mystery. You’re stretching.

        • LastCubScout

          What? I don’t understand. Are you saying you think “Friday” is a murder mystery or I’m saying that it’s a mystery?

        • J Jett

          F13 is a horror movie that has a mystery within it.

  • Saltoner

    Absolutely goddamn right! Preach it brother!

  • Kino

    Yes! I had a film professor who grew up loving horror and revolved his teaching career around horror, and even published a few books on horror… but for these very same reasons posted here that push studios to create watered down horror that makes your brain go numb, he lost a taste for it and started saying that horror is for people with underdeveloped brains. In class, he showed us a range of films that he considered horror, which included Pan’s Labyrinth and Gus Van Sant’s Elephant. I agree with him and I am all for cerebral horror. I like my popcorn horror as much as any other horror fan, but I also love horror that makes you think. I’m not sure people who are purists about films like Friday the 13th being horror are actually fully aware of what horror is.

  • BossWalrus

    Yes!!!

  • I Am Colossus

    Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!! Good article!

  • El_Fez

    When did “Blood and gore” become the standard for Horror, that a movie without gallons of red isn’t horror. I will fight any person in this room who claims that the Lugosi Dracula or Karloff Frankenstein aren’t horror. Nosferatu is horror as fuck, and not a drop of blood.

    • concerned citizen

      Damn. Now I want a t-shirt that’s got Count Orlock on it and says “horror as fuck”

      • Gadriel

        I reckon I’d buy one too.

  • Ditch

    what’s funny, is that when I read the original article, the first movie I thought of was the cell, which as a film itself is not very good. but it is pretty to look at…haha.

    • Ditch

      and Pan’s Labyrinth us simply an all around awesome film.

  • Ditch

    I wanna hear more about Open Grave, though, as that film hit me in all the good places…if you can turn your mind off and just watch it (which I tried to do), it is one of the most underrated horror films of the last year or so.

  • Db

    It’s not too dissimilar to the “It’s not metal” phenomenon. It becomes especially hypocritical when you look at metal over time and then compare certain artists that are considered “not metal” to bands that invented metal. Like BVB being “not metal”, or people who complain about new In Flames vs old In Flames. Etc.

    • KSE1977

      I got so annoyed by sites like Metalsucks, that I stopped going. I got tired of hearing how bands I enjoyed either weren’t metal, or were too “over”. Meanwhile I would listen to their album of the year choices and not get what was even remotely entertaining about some of them.

    • James Allard

      Oh. Yes. Although for me it was Punk. Punk was this, not that, etc…

    • Gadriel

      Well of course Borussia Dortmund are not a metal band! Silly Db!

  • GRIM

    I agree with you completely, but it gets to a point where someone tries to say something like “The Hunger Games is a horror!” and, no… its just an action adventure movie about kids killing each other. Battle Royal though! That shit can be classified as a horror-action. Well based on some clips I have seen of it because I haven’t been abel to actually see the movie… But yeah, I agree with everything you say and it annoys me when people try to say films like Se7en or whatever else isn’t a horror. It’s like, dude, a horror movie doesn’t have to have blood, gore and tites to be a horror! Now get out of my sight!…

    • Gadriel

      You really should seek out BR, it’s a brilliant movie. It’s sequel not-so-much, but is still worth a viewing.

      • GRIM

        It was on Netflix, but the day I was about to watch it they decided to pulled it off there streaming thing.

  • Tanner the Spanner

    I think we need to redefine our genres. Some movies that are now classed as horror movies could be redefined as thrillers. For instance, Session 9. I recently watched it and thought it was okay. But not a horror movie. To me, it was more of a thriller since Simon wasn’t really a possession case, but more of a split personality kind of thing.
    Likewise, Se7en, while good, is not horror, but a thriller. You can get a thrill from horror and be horrified by a thriller, so obviously the genres have some overlap, but to use them so interchangably is just wrong.

    • JackDaniels

      Except that Simon is totally an entity that possesses people. It’s Simon that speaks to Gordon, making him kill. If it was only split personality, how could to people (the girl in the tapes and Gordon respectively) have the same split personality? Simon even lampshades this by saying he lives inside the weak.

      On the other points you are totally right though.

      • Tj Fowler

        I actually felt Simon was not really a demon but some dark part of the human condition that is inside all of us and can come out under certain duress.

        • JackDaniels

          I get where you’re coming from and I kinda like that reading. But aren’t all demons some dark part of the human psyche? In a way Simon the demon would be a symbol for the dark part of the human condition. I don’t think both readings exclude each other.

          • Tj Fowler

            Well I think it depends on how people want to interpret ‘demon’. Some like to interpret demon purely as a supernatural entity with it’s own sentience or some classify demons as something like you state as well. I think as well they both don’t exclude each other but also CAN exclude each other depending, in the case of any given film, how the ‘demon’ aspect is addressed. AND it also possible that they can be both excluded and inclusive at the same time…how is that for a paradox hahaha

          • Tanner the Spanner

            I personally think that Simon was not a possession or anything supernatural like that. It was just a mental condition that Mary had, which Gordon also got. Of course, like Jack already said, neither excludes the other. If you think about it with Simon’s words in mind, that he lives inside the weak and wounded, you could construe it as the mental condition becoming the window to possession, in which case you have both.
            .
            To be honest, in this situation I think back to the old tales of exorcisms. People thought they were possessed but really were faking it or had a mental condition. There was one case in which a priest suspected something was up and started quoting from the Aeneid (Virgil’s epic), which the person said to be possessed thought was the Our Father.

    • Evi

      But why does he have to be possessed for it to be a horror film? There are all sorts of horror films that don’t involve the supernatural.

    • Christensen

      session 9 is textbook psychological horror.

      we don’t need to “redefine genres”, people like you just need to take their heads out of their asses.

  • concerned citizen

    Well said.

  • Donnie Bellville

    One way to decide is to ask the filmmaker. I can guarantee Fincher does not consider his film horror. Also Del Toro considers Pan’s Labyrinth a fairy tale.

    • Gadriel

      Indeed, but by the same token we have someone like William Friedkin who claims that THE EXORCIST isn’t a horror movie.

    • NeckRomancy

      Really important point noone mentioned.

  • KSE1977

    While I get what you are saying and agree to a certain extent, you need to accept that these things are subjective. Pan’s Labyrinth, to me, is more of a fantasy film, just as I would say Silence of the Lambs is a thriller, but not necessarily a horror film. Having said that, I have always viewed Se7en as a horror film. Sure there are all sorts of horror snobs out there, many of them on staff here at BD, we all have our biased opinions and subjective categories that we place movies in. Writing this article the way you did, it felt like a great point that descended into finger-pointing and lecturing. You are no more qualified to classify or rate a movie than anybody else on this site or anywhere really. Don’t assume that because we come here, that makes you an expert or lends more weight to your categorizing.

    • NeckRomancy

      I completely agree with you. But shouldn’t we just roughly add some lines just to, for example, distinguish horror from thriller. I agree with your categorization for the mentioned films. How I see this concept is that: if a movie shows the antagonist doing ‘bad’ things clearly and directly, it becomes horror. If a movie rather creates tension and makes you feel, sense that without showing it becomes thriller. That is how I learnt it to be. For example paranormal activity is not even horror. You simply can’t see the spirits or whatsoever. You visualize them on your own maybe. But, yeah, later films of the PA shows some people who can be considered antagonists. I was talking about the original PA concept defined by the first movie.

  • James Allard

    Two of the most brutal films ever made: 1984 (John Hurt, Richard Burton) and The Candidate (Robert Redford, Peter Boyle). In one, a social order that has mutated/evolved into a soul crushing machine is shown as unstoppable, in the other you have Big Brother. Does that eliminate the essence of horror from them?

    Island Of Lost Souls was made in the 30’s. There are those that would say its inability to show the actual flaying-alive scene makes it less than horror.

    “It should not be a secret, but apparently is, that as an officially despised and generally low-budget phenomenon, the horror film is free to be politically subversive, psychologically daring, and artistically outrageous.” – Bruce Kawin

    Just because it has a brain doesn’t mean it gets moved away from the genre. Granted, taste is subjective, I understand some enjoy the miserable wretched mess that is Cannibal Holocaust while others reject the simple brilliance of The Blair Witch Project. BUT… to reject films because they do not fall into one’s own pleasure zone limits the options terribly., and yes, that includes me.

  • I’m finally getting 80 Dollars an hour,just working 4-5 hours daily on line….It’s time to take some action and you can join it too.It is simple,dedicated and easy way to get rich.Three weeks from now you will wish you have started today .ytry..

    • Db

      Oh wow, That must be why you have time to take selfies in your makeup and underwear! What a great life.

      • Tanner the Spanner

        Did you just troll a bot?

        • Gadriel

          I trolled a bot once, it was a wild night where I’d sank a couple of bottles of JD and ended up at some out of town S&M club. Ah, good memories…..

  • Charlton

    Can “Requiem for a Dream” be a horror film? Show it in High Schools, and kids would never, EVER want to do drugs, and be scared of it.

    • PsychoMantis18

      You gotta have some rules, or some genre defining traits.

      • Charlton

        The drugs disguise the fact it is a horror 😛

    • Mark P

      Totally a horror film.

    • Evi

      Interesting question. If somebody asked me, I wouldn’t call it a horror, yet it’s honestly one of the most horrific films I’ve ever seen. It’s terrified people everyone I’ve shown it to, way more than any typical horror pick.

      • Charlton

        When I first saw it, I was horrified, and left practically sat in shock for twenty minutes after it finished. Then as I wandered round my house, deciding what to do next or sort out, life felt in slow motion and very quiet. Very strange.

  • PsychoMantis18

    Gotta agree with them on this. It is subjective and all but it seems like heaps of people want to fit “Horror” into this tight, little, restrictive box for some reason. Let it freeee!

    Have you all spoken to Brad about this article?

  • NeckRomancy

    Horror is subjective? In my opinion, it is not and a movie requires obvious visual elements to be a horror movie. Isn’t it how it differs from thriller? So, yes, you need “monsters/zombies/axe wielding psychopaths/creatures/whatever.” etc. for a movie to be a horror movie. As is Sinister.

    I think, the silence of lambs, saw and many other are not horror movies, even though I’m a fan of those two and the horror genre. They just don’t have visual horror elements. The antagonists are so passive, never seen in action. That is not horror. But you feel them. So that is thriller. (Saw can be included in many genres but I will never agree with horror and torture porn.)

    I haven’t watched se7en, friday the 13, the cell or pan’s labyrint. But I’m definetely gonna watch at least the first two of them. But I can say that:

    The clip from The cell is NOT HORROR. It’s torture porn. Just like in Hostel. Hostel either didn’t have many horror elements. It’s another torture porn. What made -if we could say that- Hostel, a horror movie is other horror elemets than torture scenes. (Irrelevant, but: Saw may show you scenes like torture too, but it is not torture porn. That wasn’t even the intention of directors)

    Best argument ever: “This whole “it’s not horror” argument? It’s bullshit. It’s childish, melodramatic, and, worst of all, fucks over us horror fans.” <– Obviously you have come up with a better argument -.-

    "Infinitely malleable" ??? So why the fuck are we still talking if ANYTHING can be horror? Go *uck yourself.

    Dont get me wrong. I really love movies like you defined as "conceptional horror" for their creative scenario and twisted plots. But many of them, in my opinion, are not horror. I'm one of those criers who say many horror movies are not smart or complicated enough to give joy other than being scared. But when I need that joy, I watch thriller (especially psychological) movies. Do they ever crossover? Hell yeah! There are really good movies both smart and horrific (with visual elements) just like The Sixth Sense. But some of them are just not horror. Thriller.

    SO WHAT IS THE POINT OF TRYING TO FIT EVERYTHING IN HORROR GENRE ?
    WHY ARE WE SO CONSERVATIVE IN THAT? THERE ARE OTHER GENRES TO WHICH HORROR FANS CAN STILL ENJOY.

    • Cappy Tally

      The fact that you had to say “In my opinion” just goes to show that at the end of the day, you’re still only sharing…your opinion. Which is subjective.

      • NeckRomancy

        I meant “to my knowledge”, or “as far as I know” by that “in my opinion”. So.. nope!

        • Cappy Tally

          What you meant doesn’t change the fact that you’re just sharing your subjective opinion.

    • Brianna Powers-Clever

      I would have to respectfully disagree with you on the point that horror is “not subjective.” Horror most definitely IS subjective, because what terrifies me might not be the same thing that terrifies you. For example, take the movie “American History X.” I watched that movie for the first time when I was 26 years old, and it horrified me. I found the brutality, as well as the ending, to be incredible. It still sticks with me to this day. Horror is a genre that is supposed to elicit disgust, terror, etc. It is supposed to take people out of their comfort zone, and there are many different things that do that for different people. Films such as Se7en and Silence of the Lambs are, indeed, horror for some. Subgenres are good, we agree on that point. For example, my Mom and I both loved the movie The Woman in Black, but that is about as far into horror as she will get. Definitely would NOT sit down and watch Hostel with her, nor would I take her with me to see the Green Inferno. This is what makes subgenres a good thing; it saves people from watching something that is too far outside their comfort zone. However, to say horror is not subjective is to discount, and discredit, people on individual levels. Just my thoughts. 🙂

    • Christensen

      films are assigned by genres by the emotions they elicit not by “visual elements”. hotel transylvania is a childrens comedy movie that has various “visual elements” taken from horror films. it’s not a horror film because it is not horrific. if a film is horrific/disturbing/scary/disgusting it’s a horror film. your idiotic made-up “visual elements” bullshit cannot be traced to any credible source on the internet or anywhere else, so yes it is an incorrect subjective opinion of yours. so yeah the torture scenes in hostel and other films are indeed horror elements as they are usually deeply disturbing and horrific, and torture porn a horror subgenre related to the splatter film. if a film is funny it’s a comedy – it doesn’t need to have specific “visual elements” demanded by some dweeb online.

      hell, try using wikipedia maybe

  • Patrick Cooper

    I agree with my BD homies on this one. A couple years ago I put Spring Breakers on my Best Of list for the year and got crucified for it. That movie got under my skin and unsettled me more than any monster/zombie/whatever movie that year. What constitutes horror changes as we mature – I’m more afraid of nuclear war now than Freddy. It happens. It’s subjective.

  • NeckRomancy

    Saying “that is not horror” is not necessarily elitism. If you think it is, it is only your prejudice that that person discriminates other genres. I, personally, claim many movies not being horror while loving them and their better-fitting genres.

  • Christian

    Major studios don’t give a fuck about something that’s categorized as ”Horror” but when someone calls their movie a ”Thriller” it gets attention – Silence of the Lambs and Manhunter are two that spring to mind. They could have easily been Horror movies

  • James Patrick Bowler

    There are plenty of examples of actual horror that don’t pander to the lowest common denominator in intelligence…including Cabin in the Woods and Tucker and Dale Vs Evil. People call them game-changers but I think they’re just more clever than the average bear. There’s not reason to go ranting about what should or shouldn’t be horror. Unfortunately its not up to you.

  • Harley Mitchel Dirk

    People seem to like their own definitions of Horror. Some people don’t see Thrillers as Horror, some don’t see Supernatural films as other, hell, I’ve talked to someone who honestly told me they didn’t consider Slashers or Creature Features as Horror. If someone’s definition doesn’t line up with your own, that’s not elitism, it’s an opinion.

    Personally I draw a line in the sand at Godzilla, and no I don’t intend to let that one go anytime soon.

    • Un Gsund

      People seem to like their own definitions of…. amen! thats the universal truth… 7 billion times 😉

  • Seal Clubber

    I agree 100%. In fact, much of “Trainspotting” I consider to be horror. Never mind the body horror that comes with the drug addictions in the movie – the scene with the dead infant in the crib still really haunts me to this day.

    • Derek Lang

      Agreed! I feel that movies like that are often labeled by the masses as a drama because horror doesn’t get taken seriously by most, and labeled anything BUT horror by horror fans because it doesn’t fit the mold of a conventional horror film.

  • THGrimm

    I’m really happy this article was published! This is a conversation I was having with a fellow filmmaker last year. So many of many of my friends who are just casual movie-goers and not avid horror fans like myself are quick to dismiss a movie if it does not scare them. I think horror is about so much more. Horror can be defined by it’s ability to repulse us, containing gothic imagery, and doing things that other genres just DON’T do. That’s the beautiful thing about it; it can take many shapes and forms and slither in and out like a shadow. I absolutely love Daniel’s comment about horror being “infinitely malleable” . . . that’s dead on! (Pun intended, I guess haha)
    Overall, what I think is important about anything meant to entertain us, is that all the genres should intersect, because that’s how life is. While you’re over here in the park laughing with friends while some song is playing, there could be someone on the other side of the city locked up in the basement with a psycho who happens to have the same song playing. Or while you’re enduring some hardship in your life and having the worst day ever, something still might make you laugh. Nothing is all this or all that, it’s ever shifting and intersecting. Horror just happens to be the best blanket. If we allow it to be a bigger genre than the masses give us credit for, we can enjoy a vast spectrum of incredible films.

    • Uzumaki Desu

      Very well said!

      • THGrimm

        Thanks!

  • Krug09

    For me, a movie has to feel like a “horror” film to be one. Seven doesn’t quite make it FOR ME. That isn’t to say its not horror to someone else. Horror movies are slasher films, terror films like Jaws and The Exorcist. Seven is a psychological thriller, TO ME.

    • Rafael Fernandez

      Agree. I’m not a movie expert and don’t want to be. Maybe there is some Cosmic Correct Answer to what movies belong where – and the author of this article has access to it – but I assign movies to genres based on my own experience and tastes.

    • Christensen

      Horror has more subgenres than slasher films and “terror films”…

  • J Jett

    do people find UNDER THE SKIN to be horror? i definitely do. just the scene alone with the baby left stranded to die on the beach gave me nightmares and i couldn’t get it out of my head for weeks. yet i’ve been told it’s not really a horror movie and more of a sci-fi film.

    • Kevin Cline

      Definitely horror, in my opinion.

      • ScrewBot

        If I had to categorize it, I’d call it sci-fi horror, but Under the Skin is so good and so unique it’s really in a class of its own.

  • Psy-Ko Smiley

    It reminds me of heavy metal. Back in the 70s there was metal, thats all. Then in the 80s it started to get subgenred, we had glam metal, thrash metak, hair metal, ect. Even moreso in the 90s and beyond with death metal, speed metal blah blah blah. Same has happened with horror. Originally there were horror movies, then it started getting subgenred, slasher flicks, psychological thriller, camp horror ect. Why? My thought is everyone likes to be different, to set themselves apart from the crowd. When Horror and metal weren’t very popular those tags were enough but then they started to mainstream and we needed to show we were still different (and better?) so all the subgenres evolved. Not really a big deal I guess although does make it harder to search for things on music/movie sites.

    • Charles Lupula

      Those categories in music are pretty damn necessary, to be honest. You can’t listen to Nightwish and Morbid Angel and tell me that’s the same exact genre of music, with no subgenres allowed.

  • Derek Lang

    I LOVE THIS ARTICLE. Everything you have said is so true that it hurts. I feel like everyone gets so caught up in the idea that horror needs to have a monster or jump scares that when we get a really great movie not typical of the genre that has a real sense of dread, it’s almost always written off as being of another genre. Gone Girl I think may be the best recent example of this. I haven’t seen a movie in a long time that managed to really get under my skin and turn my stomach the way the plot of that movie could, and that’s precisely what horror as a genre is supposed to do to a viewer. Thinking back I feel like Requiem For A Dream could also be considered a great, albeit unconventional, horror movie.

    • Jodie Lightfoot

      Requiem for a Dream is still the most terrifying film I’ve ever seen.

  • Tyler Durden

    I’m with you, man. Couldn’t agree more. Some of the best and most critically acclaimed horror films in existence deal with nuanced subject matter and are often about something much more than a body count and 1000 ways to die. Genre defining horror films are creative, multi-dimensional, thought provoking, and those components are used to inflict terror in the viewer. That’s what keeps us coming back for more.

  • neckupcheckup

    I remember distinctly when studios went out of their way to state ” it’s not a horror movie but a (fill-in-the-blank with your genre of choice ) with horror elements” when describing movies like “Seven”, and “The Cell” and other films with big celebs in the roles . On top of that, at one point in time, studios like Paramount treated films like the “Friday The 13th” series as if they were the child they were ashamed of despite the money it generated….. if anything , in my opinion, the studios created the push-back from horror fans that led them to react by turning up their collective noses at the previously mentioned high profile films. That said, both films are ,to me, horror films and shouldn’t be ignored despite most studios’ collective snobbery.

  • Charles Lupula

    I think you’re mistaking horror with thrillers. Two different categories. Look, I love Pan’s Labyrinth and I love Se7en, but they’re not horror films. Neither is Silence of the Lambs, which falls into the same category as they do.

    You can call a dog a bird all you want, but it doesn’t make it a bird. It’s not elitism, it’s properly categorizing something.

    • hopeyouhateit

      I will agree that Silence of the Lambs is misclassified as a horror. But it is a perfect opposite to argue in favor of Se7en. Wherein Silence is strictly about catching the guy who did it and the ride to catching him Se7en spends its time in the philosophy and the nature of evil. It’s a slow burn, but many of the greats are.

      Se7en is a horror classic. It’s set in a city acting as a haunted house. If it were a procedural or thriller it’d have a more whodunnit vibe with a big reveal of the villain, but we didn’t feel cheated when John Doe just walked in and handed himself over because that’s not what the film is about. It has the structure of a thriller but the content is wholly in the horror genre. It isn’t selling suspense or the thrills of what will happen next. It’s selling fear. It’s selling depravity. It’s selling the darkness of the human heart. It’s a study of the horrors.

      Regardless, this genre specifically has a bit more of a subjective tinge to it and it’s a genre that I believe is still trying to figure itself out. This is most likely due to the fact that, for quite a long time, there is little respect for the genre so when a great horror film comes out many critics and the general public will find a way to rebrand it rather than allowing the horror genre a win.

    • Christensen

      horror and thriller are two different categories but they often overlap, as is the case with seven and silence of the lambs to a lesser degree. also, pan’s labyrinth is not even a thriller nor is it ever listed as one anywhere. people usually call it a dark fantasy.

  • adougherty

    I’m with you until the very last statement. I agree horror is so much more than many people make it out to be. And I agree horror can be intelligent, or simple. I also recognize that when most people say they like horror, they are being too broad, and really only like a particular sub-genre of horror.

    But, you’re argument lost merit when you stated “In fact, that’s when it’s the most effective. It shouldn’t take an axe for fear to get into your head.”

    This statement right here is the elitism that you’re railing against. For someone people that is exactly what it takes for fear to get into their head. Chucky kept me up at nights as a teenager, and Poltergeist made me afraid to leave the TV on at night. But, as an adult movies like Sinister and The Conjuring get me wanting more.

  • Allow me to show you a excellent# ways to earn a lot of extra money by finishing basic tasks from your house for few short hours a day — See more info by visiting >MY___|DISQUS|___ID|

  • Ms. Ripley

    “one of those rare 90’s films that doesn’t feel dated”
    My thoughts exactly. Couldn’t believe this film came out 20 years ago.

    I’ve had this “what counts as a horror movie and what doesn’t” with my friends aswell. Sometimes it’s a fine line between two genres and if it gives you the horror feels and you count it as horror, hey, who am I to disagree?
    Se7ven is, imo, a (horror)thriller. You wouldn’t recommend this movie to pure thriller lovers for its bloody content.
    Pan’s labyrinth has a very dark tone and counts as a horror movie as well for me. In my country it was even sold in a “horror box” with “The orphanage”.

  • Darnell

    I am a die hard horror fan and I love Seven but it’s not horror. It’s not horror in tone or atmosphere. It’s a cop drama…

    However IMO the first Saw was not a horror film. Saw IMO didn’t become horror until the second movie. There are few traditional horror elements in the original Saw.

    • ㅌVㅇㄴVㅌ

      What do you believe are the traditional elements of horror that are absent from both Seven and Saw?

    • Se7en is not horror in tone or atmosphere? You lost me.

  • DeadInHell

    I think Seven is regarded as “not horror” for the same reason that CSI, NCIS, Castle, and every other police procedural on TV aren’t listed under “horror” just because they deal with murder. It has thematic elements that are horrific, but it’s not a “horror film” strictly speaking. But I’m not exactly adamant about the classification.

    That said, being selective about genre attribution is not “elitism”. It’s just a way for people who like things to talk about them easier. The reason people don’t want to label every thriller and cop drama as “horror” is because that’s how genres work. Things fall into certain genres so that we can better organize and approach the nearly endless selection that is before us. Someone who is adamant about their genre classifications is only trying to protect their interests, in that way.

    That isn’t elitism. It’s an entirely practical concern. For example, I don’t think that 50 Shades of Grey should be listed under “Horror” because I don’t want to find books like 50 Shades of Grey in the horror section when I’m looking for a good novel. That’s not to say that the book itself isn’t horrific, you see – it just doesn’t fit the genre.

  • Brandon Foley

    I think its more of an elitist anti elitism than anything, and it is annoying

  • Evernal Sue

    what if thriller enthusiasts gets mad at you for trying to give horror too much credit? it’s the whole is game art thing all over again. Why not wear it as a badge of honour? horror is dumb and that’s the way i like it

    • What a terrible way to look at horror. Horror is dumb? That honestly makes me sad.

      • Evernal Sue

        well some are, i honestly dun care what other ppl say as long as i enjoy it, that’s all that matters

    • Christensen

      this is the stupidest, shittiest comment i’ve seen on this site. no offense though wear it as a badge of honour

  • I feel like a lot of us have made the mistake of thinking that suspense and thriller have to be separated from horror when in reality, they are elements of the genre as well and important ones. I was one of those people that didn’t necessarily consider Pan’s Labyrinth as horror and have come to objectively see the error of my ways. Why? Because it doesn’t take a genius to understand the premise of a book/movie/show and understand the elements that make it what it is. The Others is no less horror than The Shining and honestly it’s precisely this elitism that has been hurting the genre and giving it such a bad name for the last two decades. Because unless you give people blood and gore and monsters they will not think twice about rejecting a movie that is more psychological than shock value.

  • ㅌVㅇㄴVㅌ

    This isn’t a problem with elitism as much as it is an example of misunderstandings/ignorance of terror & horror.

  • James Davidson

    The Silence of the lambs is not horror it borrows some of the tropes but its Psychological thriller.

  • Raul Calvo

    It’s interesting to note that the term “psychological thriller” was made up by Hollywood studios to avoid calling their horror movies “horror”. I don’t know how many of you remember this, but even movies like Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer were labeled as “psychological thrillers” when they were first released. Because Hollywood saw horror movies just one step above porn movies and didn’t want to get dirty, so the psychological thriller was born.

    This began, of course, with Silence of the Lambs: a horror movie that, in order to win some Oscars, was called psychological thriller. Because that was more acceptable than allow a horror movie to win an Oscar.

    But why Silence of the Lambs is a horror movie? Just beacuse there are murders in it? No, of course. If you have read the Thomas Harris novels, you have seen that they are a blend of thriller, horror and pitch black humour. When Michael Mann 1986 adapted Red Dragon, the today classic Manhunter, Mann emphasized the procedural aspects, the psychology of Will Graham and the relationship between the Tooth Fairy and Reba, shooting the movie in a cold modern style. Elements that made Manhunter a thriller because emphasize the elements that traditionally belong to noir and crime fiction with high dosis of suspense. Silence of the Lambs, on the other hand, worked more to create an atmosphere that’s pure gothic horror. The gruesome elements are front and center, the way Hannibal Lecter and Buffalo Bill are represented is pure horror. Look at the cell of Lecter in Silence of the Lambs and compare it to Lecter’s cell in Manhunter.

    Seven is another horror movie labeled as psychological thriller, because Seven also builds an atmosphere based in dread and horror. Massage Parlor Murders, a movie shot in 1972, deals with the same plot, you can say that Seven is a rip-off of this movie (same plot and ending), but deals more with the cops and how they worked and how the case affects them, that makes it a thriller.

    And we can’t forget that the lines that separate suspense and horror are quite thin, and movies like Psycho gladfully erased them.

  • John Van Vleck

    Not wanting to spend much time on a pointless discussion, a quick glance at IMDB shows Se7en listed as “Drama, Mystery, Thriller”, and Pan’s Labyrinth listed as “Drama, Mystery, War”.. They actually list 3 genre’s each and Horror is not listed for either one.. your argument is invalid. 🙂

    • Khy

      yes, because everything on IMDB is the bible….

  • Joseph Sheldahl

    Did you seriously write a whole article talking about how it offends you that other people don’t classify a movie you like as horror? What? Why should you even care what other people think?

  • WALKTER

    God forbid someone on the internet doesn’t agree with you, get a grip.

  • It’s kind of clear you don’t really understand the subgenres of horror. Personally, I’m not one for viscera. I like my horror quiet.

More in Editorials