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[Interview] ‘Gerald’s Game’ Producer Trevor Macy on the Current State of Horror

Gerald's Game

Mike Flanagan‘s adaptation of Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game was released to rave reviews a couple of weeks ago, and I had the opportunity to speak with its producer Trevor Macy about the film, as well as the current state of the horror genreIf you’re reading this, you’re probably well aware that our beloved horror genre is usually viewed as less than other genres. As someone who frequently works with horror films (Macy produced Flanagan’s Oculus, Hush and Before I Wake, as well as 2008’s The Strangers), I was intrigued by his insight on the genre from an industry perspective.

First thing’s first though, I had to ask Flanagan about his remake of I Know What You Did Last Summer, a property I am particularly fond of. He sadly replied that he has not heard anything about since turning in the script years ago. I lamented the waning popularity of slasher films, my personal favorite sub-genre of horror film. Macy jumped into the conversation with this little nugget of insight:

“It’s out of vogue right now but the horror pendulum always swings. It won’t be out of vogue forever. It’s always about a decent filmmaker getting hold of the right piece of material at the right time. Someone asked me the other day why horror is so hot right now and I was like ‘Look, when I made The Strangers everybody was saying ‘Horror is dead forever! No one is ever going to want to see a scary movie again!’ And that film almost didn’t make it to theaters but the distributor changed their mind and it was hugely successful. Everybody writes about how horror is in or horror is out, but it seems to be genre-specific. You don’t see that being written about the action or sci-fi genres.”

Diving into that topic, I was compelled to bring up the everlasting debate about what qualifies as horror. It’s gotten so bad that some people are saying that It, a movie about a demon clown murdering children, isn’t a horror movie. What is the issue with the horror genre? Why are people so afraid to use it?

“Horror fans use the “H-word” proudly,” Macy said, “but more often than not when I’m talking to people inside the industry I say it’s a scary movie rather than specify horror or thriller or supernatural or paranormal or whatever it is because people have this thing in their head that horror is less, but it’s not less!”

It’s odd that studios and people within the film industry have such an aversion to calling something a horror film. After all, most horror films can be made on a modest budget and easily break even during their opening weekend (or, if you’re It, earn double their production budget in their opening weekend). Contrary to Macy’s statement, this need to call a “high quality” film something other than horror bleeds into the horror community as well. More often than not, a film that is well-regarded will be described as a psychological thriller, or something similar as opposed to a horror film. Former BD writer Jonathan Barkan wrote about this very topic two years ago, and it’s sort depressing that it is still a battle that is being fought.  Everyone seems to be on the same page about Gerald’s Game though. Flanagan, who was also present during this interview (you can read my piece on him here), chimed in:

“It’s funny because my feeling on [Gerald’s Game] is that it isn’t really a horror movie. It was horrific but it was not a horror movie. I thought most of the pushback would come from genre enthusiasts and critics on the genre sites, but as we’ve talked to people who have watched the movie they’re like ‘This is absolutely a horror movie!’ I’m really pleasantly surprised to see it being embraced like that because that’s just not what I expected.”

Gerald’s Game is currently streaming on Netflix.



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COMMENTS

10 Comments
  • dukeblues

    The Strangers is easily in the top 3 horror films in the last 15 years. Simplicity is key, not this teenage drama crap with shitty actors. Slashers films is where its at though. The paranormal type crap is terrible.

    • Garbageface

      Just out of curiosity, what are your other two?

      • Pickle Dust

        The Strangers is my favorite horror film (and one of my wife’s least favorites as it terrifies her) and I’d be interested to hear what he rates as the others as well.

    • AkumajoBelmont

      Yeah, curious to know what the other that make your Top 3 would be!

      My personal Top 3 of the last 15 years would probably be Inside, [REC] and Hostel, based purely on my reactions to them on the first viewing or two. Say what you want about Eli Roth, but Hostel is a masterpiece for me. The atmosphere and vibe was killer, and I really dug the concept. Inside and [REC] however, they speak for themselves. Each of these movies, for me at least, tell tight, self-contained stories that finish what they start. Each of them showed me something I hadn’t seen before in a horror movie, and all pushed me to the limit in the original couple of viewings. Of course, I’m totally desensitized to them now, but back then, they were the shit.

      The Strangers, I’d probably place in my Top 10 somewhere. Phenomenal movie.

  • Samaras_Madness

    I feel that the reason journalists are so interested in saying “horror is dead” is because studios are willing to churn out sub standard franchises rather than making a quality film because they do, in fact, think “Horror is less” and an easy buck. I don’t spend my money at a theater unless I’m excited for a film and if my immediate thought is that it’s sub standard, regardless of the genre, I won’t give a studio my money.

    • Khy

      Well I can’t argue with you there. Flicks like Wish Upon, Flatliners, Friend Request, The Bye Bye Man ect are basically good examples of studio produced microwaved dinners designed for nothing other than a big opening weekend. Sad part is most of those I listed actually have interesting concepts and could have made fascinating films IF there was any effort to make a quality film.

      I find it no coincidence that all of them bombed this year. I think it’s because more and more viewers are becoming selective because they do have other options and can just stay home and watch something they don’t have to pay for. Most of these “horror is less” studio packaged films aren’t even getting good opening weekends these days…which is good.

      I always believe in not spending my money on something I think is less than. However the funny thing is- you do have people doing just that. They pay to see a movie they predict will be terrible and go see it anyway. Haha

  • Khy

    Great article. I think the reason you have so many contrary opinions on what makes something horror is simply because at the end of the day not every one shares the same view of what that is. It means something different to each of us . I can see why people consider Gerald’s Game horror because a lot of the heavier content and themes are well….horrific..Just not in the standard jump scare way. Then again I can see why people see it as more of a drama. All personal perception.

    I personally just don’t like people seeing horror as one giant cliche. Not every horror film is about a derpy killer chasing some big boobed bimbo nor is it always the traditional supernatural evil. Sometimes a horror can just be about human nature and I don’t know about you- but Humans are the scariest kinds of monsters I know. Just read the news.

    I just hope more movies like IT and Gerald’s Game (haha thanks King) keep expanding people’s mind when it comes to this genre. A horror movie can be about much deeper and grounded things.

  • kieron callaghan

    I totally agree with Khy but they worded it so beautifully and more profoundly than i could ever attempt. Where i live in South Wales in the UK most of the cinemas tend to screen blockbusters which is fine especially for “IT” but i had to wait quite some to see some of my favourites such as “the Witch” and the Trevor Macy produced “Oculus” and “The Strangers” but they really were so worth the wait so many thanks to Trace for the really good article.

  • zombie84_41

    This movie was good nothing fantastic the ending was stupid, unless it was one of those endings where it was suppose to mean something and I just missed what it meant. The rest of the movie was very tense.

  • HeteroFriendly

    Could this gerald game possibly be that good?

    Sitting on the bed the movie?
    Even if it is Carla Gugino doing the sitting?

    I guess theres only one way to find out.

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