Recently our very own KC Redding-Gonzalez wrote an interesting piece on the state of American Horror today which you should definitely check out.
Spoilers: it wasn’t exactly singing praises. And she’s not alone with this opinion. Plenty of people are thinking the same thing. And for good reason. For a long time, horror was was just bad, with studios releasing miss after miss. But in recent years something’s changed for the better.
In fact, some people are calling it the golden age of horror. And personally, I’m firmly in the latter group. Perhaps, it’s in part to having a younger perspective, but the horror genre (even the American version) seems to be doing better then it has been in a very long time. Over the last few years, we’ve seen more than a few hits that were both critically acclaimed and loved by audiences alike.
I’m talking about films like Hush, The Conjuring series, A Quiet Place, Hereditary, Split and of course Get Out.
There’s still plenty of horrible horror movies still being made all the time, to be fair. But it seems a bit blind to ignore all the ones that are successful in capturing audience’s and critics’ attention, whether to our personal tastes or not.
We’re seeing more monster movies too. I have yet to see Birdbox, but it is definitely on my list. And yes, I’ve also noticed a certain trend where the supernatural always turns out to be something more easily explained.
But, is it actually more easily explained?
As a psychology major, I can tell you that there’s so much about the mind that is still nknown and mysterious. In fact, Split explores the psychology of the mind to great effect and the result is something just as unsettling as something out of The Exorcist. (Its representation of the mentally ill is another debate altogether).
I think the subject of guilt is interesting even outside the idea of some unstoppable monster coming to punish us for our sins. Maybe we’re the monsters, punishing ourselves. And maybe that’s not as mystical an answer, but it’s just as terrifying.
Obviously, there’s still space for classic monster movies and religious themes. And I want to see them. But, horror has also always thrived by tapping into the current fears and anxieties of society.
Japan has a history and reputation with the horror genre which stems, just like in the West, from folklore. But one of the most famous movie monsters, Godzilla, was made to represent the very real fear the Japanese people had of city-destroying forces of nature.
Creating horror from contemporary fears just makes sense. As humans, we’ll always be afraid of some predatory hunter hiding just past where the lights can touch. But there’s a very real fear that exists within the light, among us, within us.
If you can’t find anything scary about cell phones, or other screens, you haven’t been paying attention. Monsters can’t hide under the light of cell phones. But neither can we. And when we’re forced to shine light on the horror within us and each other, well that might be the scariest thing I can think of.