By Angela Espinoza, Arts Editor
It feels as though it’s been a long time since a quality horror movie has come out. Don’t get me wrong, there’s been plenty of decent—and I do strictly mean decent—horror films that went above and beyond… to a certain extent. Films like The Ring (2002), the first Saw (2004), Slither (2006), Daybreakers (2009), Piranha 3D (2010), and so many others saw little to reasonable critical acclaim, but still managed to be surprisingly great. I look back on all of these films, and have only fond memories of how simultaneously intrigued, entertained, and scared I was. Sure, The Ring was a remake, and Piranha 3D in no way took itself seriously, but they’re still fun to watch.
So now I have to ask: has the bar been lowered in horror movies? If you look back at the last three years (as opposed to the last 13), most of the best horror movies have been comedies. Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010), Rubber (2011), and last year’s The Cabin in the Woods are all takes on the horror film, and all are hilarious.
Although it’s since deviated into many other sub-genres, the purpose of the horror genre has always been to reflect and provide commentary on the negative aspects of modern times—usually with graphic visuals. With most of the better recent horrors being comedies, what I fear is that horror has become a reflection of how irony-based we are. Sure, we’ve probably crossed the irony level at this point, where the already meaningless term “hipster” somehow had a meaning placed on it before even that stopped meaning anything, but I don’t think any of that is crippling society. An Occupy-based horror, for example, would be better suited to these times.
Since January, six horror movies have already been released in North America. One out of the six has quickly fallen into the “decent” category (Mama) and the other, the best reviewed of all, is a comedy (Warm Bodies). Out of the other four, the most infuriating is the “remake” of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, a PG-13 rated 3D film entitled Texas Chainsaw 3D, because massacres are scary.
There’s nothing wrong with horror remakes; again, The Ring is great if we’re talking modern times (if we want to backtrack though, 1978’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers is one of my all time favourite horror remakes). Honestly, I’m looking forward to this year’s remake of Carrie. I don’t know if it will be as good as the original, but with Chloë Grace Moretz in the starring role, I’m more excited than I am worried. Remakes can also reflect on current issues—I’m expecting a very powerful commentary on bullying from the Carrie remake—but the majority of remakes, like Texas Chainsaw 3D and literally a dozen of others, are usually cash grabs (I guess they are commentaries after all).
While I do sincerely enjoy the horror films that fall into the “decent” category, I am wondering if we’ll ever see something truly incredible again. Although not everyone will agree with me on this, I feel like we need a District 9 for horror, as opposed to sci-fi. District 9 was original in that it managed to successfully combine a number of different aspects of its own genre into one great film. On that note, I consistently hear the argument from people who aren’t fans of the film that they would’ve liked it more if it were fully a mockumentary. Let me tell you folks something: those films already exist, they’re called found footage, and as of today, they are the worst thing to happen to horror since the PG-13 rating.