This year horror welcomes back a certain white-masked killer and also ushers in the remake of a bewitching Dario Argento classic. (What a time to be alive.) We’re on the horizon of what could be a very dynamic year for the genre. Sure, Halloween and Suspiria are making waves—and headlines—but smaller films like Hereditary and A Quiet Place are rounding out the release schedule, brewing their own media storms with star power and positive word of mouth. Thanks to the internet, there’s an absurd amount of coverage and opinion to chew on, but can this sprawling availability of news, announcements, and dare I say it—hype—detract from a movie’s eventual effect? I would argue that it does, especially in horror, a genre greatly reliant on the element of surprise.
The announcement of David Gordon Green’s upcoming Halloween continuation, the eleventh installment in the franchise, can be traced back to 2016, almost two and a half years before its impending release. Since then, details have slowly trickled out. Funnyman Danny McBride co-wrote the script with Green! Jamie Lee Curtis is on board! John Carpenter might be interested in doing the music! The mere notion of having Michael Myers back on the big screen was enough to whet the appetite of horror fans, and the later additions of Curtis and Carpenter to the project sparked a frenzy. Comment boards on this site alone lit up like ignited gas in Haddonfield Memorial and understandably so. However, I fear that hype could possibly work against its favor, and that’s truly a scary thought.
I can’t help but compare this to the years that preceded Andy Muschietti’s IT. The barrage of “First Looks,” plot details, Tim Curry fanboying and never-ending takes was so inescapable that I fully wanted and expected to be psychologically damaged by the movie. I wanted Pennywise to haunt my dreams. I wanted him stitched into the inside of my eyelids when I closed my eyes at night. My expectations were so unruly that it was virtually impossible for Muschietti and Bill Skarsgard to deliver what I’d constructed in my head. (Disclaimer: I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy IT. While the movie was well executed, I don’t think I’m alone in wishing it was a little darker and a little more twisted.)
Truth is, hype happens and it happens to the best of us. But who’s to blame when expectations run amok? Viewers? Marketing strategists? Social media? The constant need for everyone to have a public opinion about everything can even hinder the movies we’re primed to love the most. Should I have given myself a “Twitter Time Out”? Avoided the press? Checked myself before I wrecked myself? The answer is a resounding yes.
I needed to rectify this going forward. After seeing the trailer for John Krasinski’s phenomenal A Quiet Place, I muted commercials, left theater seats for previews and closed online ads. I avoided any and all sorts of media coverage. No reviews, no interviews. I went cold turkey after a single trailer view. Ultimately, this decision to “sign off” made all the difference; I saw the movie on its Thursday premiere night and couldn’t have enjoyed it more. My viewing remained free from outside influence, and I realized how much more fun it was to go into the experience as dark as possible. I loved the unknown; I was at the mercy of the director’s vision for 90+ minutes. It was uncontaminated escapism. After seeing a trailer for the increasingly buzzworthy Hereditary, I vowed to follow the same pattern. Yet despite my attempts, I still saw the Toni Collette-led film hailed as “the scariest movie since The Exorcist.” (Insert eye-roll here.)
Luca Guadagnino’s upcoming Suspiria remake is also in line for the hard sell. Argento’s original is a cinematic masterpiece. It’s beautifully shot with splashes of color that pop off the screen. Its cinematography is bolstered by an incredible score by Italian prog-rockers Goblin. A lot can be said about Suspiria…and a lot is already being said about its remake. One Google search of “Suspiria remake” pulls up “First Photos,” Thom Yorke score news, and praise (already!) for the director’s on-set work. One headline even reads: “Suspiria: The 11 Craziest Reactions to Luca Guadagnino’s ‘Traumatizing’ and ‘Sickening’ First Footage.” I’m already exhausted.
It’s natural that excitement and fandom tend to raise the stakes for high-profile films like the ones mentioned here. Before the announcement, it looked like Myers might’ve never reclaimed his butcher knife again, let alone do so with such a wowing creative team behind him. We’re all guilty of fueling the hype machine from time to time, falling victim to a hyperbole-filled pop culture world that’s constantly plugged in. In some ways, hype is necessary; it sells tickets, it makes movies profitable, and it informs Hollywood as to what content we’ll shell out for. Hype could very well be a necessary evil from which we might never escape. The Michael to our Laurie.
But we should learn to limit our exposure and self-regulate these media blitzes. Online anticipation can and does affect how we consume movies and our opinions of them. On October 19, I can’t wait to hit the theater to witness Laurie Strode go mano-a-(wo)mano with Myers one final bloody time. I’ll avoid harping on what I want from the film and just enjoy the ride Green and company have created. I’ll let the sheer insanity of watching a brand new Halloween film unravel before me, ecstatic that this horror icon (and Myers, too) is back in action.
To continue this conversation, check out Trace’s editorial from earlier this year, “Let’s Talk About Managing Expectations…”