Have film makers/audiences forgotten the meaning of "horror"?

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bacchus
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Have film makers/audiences forgotten the meaning of "horror"?

Post by bacchus » Sat Sep 05, 2015 6:59 pm

We see the same thing year after year, zombies, vampires, a b-movie involving killer animals, haunted house, found footage, paranormal films, or demonic/satanic possession, rape/revenge or home invasion. Thankfully torture porn has gone.

The thing is, people still pay to see these, and love them. Ofcourse people are entitled to their own opinions and some of those films that fit sub-genres such as those are genuinely great films. But where has the meaning of "horror" gone? Is the meaning of a "horror" film changing/changed?

But, as has been the case for quite a while, there's a real lack of originality in both Hollywood and the indie film world. Horror in itself is meant to frightening, scary, terrifying, whatever word you want to use. In terms of any of those words, "horror" film makers seems to judge whether their film is "horror" or not by how many jump scares they can fit in, combined with loud noises. Most mainstream and indie films are so predictable now with the way scenes are structured, the way the sound designer or director designs a scare, or the way an editor constructs a part of the film, that audiences have become too smart for their own good. It all seems to be about hitting certain clichés/beats just to be considered a "horror" film.

For example:

-If a lone character is walking in a dark/forboding place, they will hear unnatural/loud sounds.
-They will probably find the source of that noise, and realise it is something normal, like a rat running around or the wind blowing something to create a noise. They will probably sigh with relief.
-This will 99% of the time be followed up with a jump scare several seconds after the audience believes they're "safe".

-OR-

-A lone character thinks something scary/threatening is behind a door or inside something.
-They approach the door with caution, and open it slowly, the music builds.
-Audiences now know there won't be something threatening behind the door when it is finally opened
-There will probably be a jump scare BEHIND the character after he/she takes a sigh of relief.

It's all just getting so repetitive.

Praise really has to be given to those that are trying new things, even if they still keep some clichés, they are bending the rules, taking things further. But again, are these films "frightening", "terrifying", "scary"?

I remember watching 'The Exorcist' and 'The Blair Witch Project' for the first time and being frightened at several points. Both films weren't gory, didn't rely on jump scares nor did they have many clichés (perhaps they created clichés for future similar films like found footage or possession films, but they were trendsetters).

What they did have in spades was a sense of dread throughout. A sense of foreboding, a kind of vague sense that "this isn't right, this film makes me feel uncomfortable but I can't really figure out why". Very few films have mastered this. Other films I would put into that category include 'The Shining', 'The Wicker Man' (the original), 'Kill List', 'Under the Skin' and 'Antichrist'. Whilst a few of those films also had lots of violence and gore, they also had a real sense of unrelenting dread for the audience.

One real cause of tension and creating that "unsettling" feeling is OBSCURITY. The human brain feels frustrated and very unsettled/unnerved when it cannot comprehend something - something obscure and unnatural without it feeling over the top or forced.

A PERFECT example of this is the recent trailer for 'The Witch' which earned a lot of praise at Sundance earlier this year. The trailer isn't graphic (aside from a couple of quick 'blood' shots), there aren't any jump scares, no monsters shown. What it does have is an eery unsettling atmosphere that's raw. Those shots of the child making the "baa" noise to the goat with the blank expression, the strange brief shot of the goat standing on its hind legs. Hell those scenes were uncomfortable, but they shouldn't be. It's because it's unnatural, our mind can just about comprehend it. It's weird, it's odd, and because we can't really understand why it's happening despite it being a relatively normal thing (a goat for example), it's VERY unnerving.

I think the future of horror is films that concentrate on atmosphere and a sense of dread/obscurity. The holy grail of horror seems to be a genuinely unsettling/scary/unnerving film that doesn't rely on jump scares or gore, but one that let's our OWN mind create its own terrors. The opinion that things are scarier when we leave it up to ourselves rather than be shown the full horror is so true. We all have our own deep dark fears and if film gives us the opportunity to relate those fears to what may or may not be shown on screen (or off it) then that is where horror truly lies.

So, please, all of you budding indie film makers, concentrate on mood and atmosphere, a sense of dread, and lay off the gore and cheap jump scares for a change.

danthsmith
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Re: Have film makers/audiences forgotten the meaning of "horror"?

Post by danthsmith » Sun Sep 06, 2015 7:39 pm

The last thing film makers want is to make their audience feel really uncomfortable or nauseous as I can remember from coming out of Cronenberg films in the 80's. Horror tends to the generic and safe as it always has. there are still gems which have ideas and engage with the real world. i thought Bait was excellent. there is also such a thing as entertainment still. Ws Vincent price ever really scary? I still love him though

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sherbetbizarre
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Re: Have film makers/audiences forgotten the meaning of "horror"?

Post by sherbetbizarre » Sun Sep 06, 2015 11:21 pm

danthsmith wrote:The last thing film makers want is to make their audience feel really uncomfortable or nauseous
Somebody needs to give them a slap then...

But maybe audiences agree. So many times I've heard people choose films at FrightFest because "it looks like fun" Really? At a horror festival? I'd rather be crawling up the walls, contemplating my own existence.

Maybe one "fun" per day - not the other way around :twisted:

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Re: Have film makers/audiences forgotten the meaning of "horror"?

Post by bacchus » Mon Sep 07, 2015 10:37 pm

sherbetbizarre wrote:
danthsmith wrote:The last thing film makers want is to make their audience feel really uncomfortable or nauseous
Somebody needs to give them a slap then...

But maybe audiences agree. So many times I've heard people choose films at FrightFest because "it looks like fun" Really? At a horror festival? I'd rather be crawling up the walls, contemplating my own existence.

Maybe one "fun" per day - not the other way around :twisted:
Agree. Although strictly Frightfest is not just a horror film festival, but a horror and fantasy film festival (apparently). Never been interested myself in films like 'Zombeavers' with a comedy element. I watch horror to be thrilled or scared shitless, not to have a laugh (or I'd have picked a comedy). I know some people don't mind films that mix genres.
danthsmith wrote:The last thing film makers want is to make their audience feel really uncomfortable or nauseous as I can remember from coming out of Cronenberg films in the 80's. Horror tends to the generic and safe as it always has. there are still gems which have ideas and engage with the real world. i thought Bait was excellent. there is also such a thing as entertainment still. Ws Vincent price ever really scary? I still love him though
I personally enjoy feeling uncomfortable in a cinema watching a film, if a film can illicit genuine feelings of discomfort, uncertainty and uneasiness then the writer/director/cast/crew have done a damn fine job. I'd rather have those feelings than be sat there for 90-120 mins watching the clock and not really having anything grab my attention.




Hate to say it, think this was the first year at Frightfest where I didn't feel scared/uneasy/uncomfortable watching something.

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sherbetbizarre
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Re: Have film makers/audiences forgotten the meaning of "horror"?

Post by sherbetbizarre » Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:22 am

bacchus wrote:Hate to say it, think this was the first year at Frightfest where I didn't feel scared/uneasy/uncomfortable watching something.
Yeah, I felt the same...

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Re: Have film makers/audiences forgotten the meaning of "horror"?

Post by EvilAsh » Sat Sep 12, 2015 9:11 pm

sherbetbizarre wrote:
bacchus wrote:Hate to say it, think this was the first year at Frightfest where I didn't feel scared/uneasy/uncomfortable watching something.
Yeah, I felt the same...
I've not been scared at frightfest for a few years now

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