I could spend my time here today trying to convince you to go see The Conjuring. You totally should. It’s a fucking great movie that will keep you up at night. Truly, just a slick little slice of terror that shows how good horror can be as an art. Go see The Conjuring, ok? And I’m going to spend the rest of this article talking about why horror is my personal favorite genre of movie and why it’s necessary to the cinematic universe.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all genres of film. Each one has it’s own merit and values that make them needed to film as an art. But, for my money, the genre that continues to grow and change in challenging and exciting ways is the horror genre.
Just so you know, I heard your groan from way over here. Yes, I said horror. Horror is not only underrated, it’s down right ridiculed. People hate horror. Horror gets accused of being corny and stupid by a large chunk of the population who aren’t weirdos like me. But, under all the bad effects and goofy monsters, there’s a large beating heart that few other genres have. So here are some bullet points of why horror matters.
1. Horror is inexpensive to produce.
Movies these days cost a shit ton to make. Big tent pole flicks like Batman and Avengers generally cost over two hundred million to get running. Even small comedies like The Heat cost around sixty million to make. And Hollywood is essentially a casino. These directors go up to a producer, describe their film, and hope they’ll get money out of it. The producer is basically a high stakes gambler. They don’t know if a film will make money. So they roll the dice. And, when you start dealing with such high sums of cash, the producer is going to gamble a lot less than a lower stakes table.
Horror is that low stakes table. Horror can be made between ten bucks to thirty million. It’s a safe investment. Thus, they’re willing to take a chance on crazier scripts. And, oh boy, do they! Cabin in the Woods and Attack The Block are two examples of batshit insane ideas that only got made because they were cheap to create.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I value that. I want my films to push limits and try to be as inventive as possible. Certainly, it doesn’t always work. For every Attack the Block there’s a Leprechaun but at least they’re trying, which is more than can be said for most homogenized pap coming out of Hollywood these days.
2. Horror starts careers.
Part of maintaining a low budget is hiring people who aren’t exactly celebrities. This extends to everyone involved: actors, writers, and directors. And, by and far, some of the best talent working today cut their teeth on horror.
In the actor category we have: Johnny Depp, Jennifer Connelly, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Bacon, and John Travolta. That’s just naming a few.
And, don’t even get me started on directors. Almost every great director started somewhere in horror: Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Sam Raimi, Oliver Stone, and Guillermo Del Toro are all great examples of dudes with vision and raw talent learning their craft through horror.
To watch horror, good horror, is a great way to see talent shine before anyone else can, like seeing a shooting star before it disappears into the ether.
3. Horror is self aware.
Look, horror isn’t out to win any awards. It knows it’s stupid and trashy at worst. And fun and inventive at best. And that’s a good thing. So few films actually understand what they’re supposed to be. Take Nearly every superhero movie Warner Bros has made in the past decade. They’re all self serious bullshit because the studio heads don’t understand that superhero films are meant to be fun. Thus, we get stark shit like Man Of Steel.
Horror will never do that to a viewer. Nope. Horror knows people watch it for gore, fun, and shlock. And it almost always delivers. It wants you to have a good time, even more than comedies do.
So, yes, there are probably more technically polished genres. There are even genres that are deeper and smarter. But horror, in it’s purest form, is exactly what going to the movies is about. It’s the thrills. It’s the sense of awe. And, more than anything else, it’s about having fun. And that’s why, for my money, horror is the greatest genre out there.