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What’s The Biggest Problem With Modern Horror?

That headline isn’t a question I’m going to answer in this piece, it’s a question you’re going to answer.

2013 was the best year for horror in quite some time, and it was certainly the best since I started here at BD in 2011. This was the first year where I had at least 10 movies I wanted to include in my year-end “best of” list (for the record it had 12, but I could have easily added a few more and felt good about it). My time at the site aside, it just felt great as a horror fan in general. I’ve loved the genre ever since I saw An American Werewolf In London at age 10 and the best scary movies still give me a high, that slightly illicit feeling when something is thrilling me and I’m not sure if the filmmakers (or me as the viewer) should be allowed to get away with it.

This year gave me plenty of that, or as much as I can expect as an adult who sometimes has to remind himself that he’s allowed to be unabashedly thrilled at times. It was also fun to watch you guys have fun with the unexpected surplus of good titles out there. Even more interesting? Watching what you guys didn’t like. There was some stuff I loved that a lot of you hated and some stuff a lot of you loved that I couldn’t really get my head around.

Is this endemic of a larger problem? Absolutely not. The fact is, everyone is different and if we all liked the same shit things would get boring pretty damn fast. I think of it as a blessing that I’m continually blindsided by opinions that I didn’t see coming; opinions I often see a lot of merit in once I really consider them. For instance, it seems like a lot of you guys dislike All The Boys Love Mandy Lane. I myself love (and will likely continue to love) that film. The fact that its characters are all well drawn, fun and fully realized is pull enough for me. I get that some folks were expecting it to reinvent the wheel (this stuff tends to happen when you hear about something for a few years before seeing it), and I can empathize with that first viewing where you have to recalibrate your expectations away from the film that was in your head and towards the film you’re actually watching. Then again, there seems to be a segment of the audience that was able to do that and found that the movie simply wasn’t their thing – fair enough.

In turn, there are also some elements in emerging horror that turn a lot of people on while leaving me cold. I hate it when horror movies are relentlessly dour and brutal with no sense of fun. Don’t get me wrong, I can enjoy some fairly intense, gory and mean stuff in the right context. But there’s an awful lot of stuff out there that seems to be begging to be taken seriously on the sole virtue that it takes itself seriously. To me, it’s the genre equivalent of what started happening to superhero films after The Dark Knight – properties that didn’t need to be mired in gloom were subjected to it anyway and thusly embraced by a fanbase looking outwards for their love to be validated (as if their own fandom wasn’t enough). There’s no need to make something not fun on purpose, even in horror (granted when it’s something like Irreversible and has something to say that’s one thing, but usually we don’t get that kind of urgency), it just comes across as immature to me.

We’re not going to “solve” anything here, one man’s fix is another man’s failure. But it’s always fun to talk. What’s YOUR biggest problem with modern horror (besides the fact that the next Friday The 13th will be found footage)?



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