The Temporal Transformation of Horror Movies


The year is 2019 and movies pop up from every corner every day, it seems.

With production companies having their hands untied to create just about what they will, the market is packed with bits of bobs of various, questionable sorts. In the spirit of this oversaturation, loads of quality releases have crawled their way to the light of day.

Society is tired of thrifty films and looks for innovation and movies they can relate to.

We need films that are the sign of the times.

In the history of the universe, there was no single genre that reflected this necessity. It was usually a melange of a couple of genres that triggered a social response. However, based on the evidence we have noticed in the past couple of decades, things have changed. Horror movies have taken the wheel and become modern-day manifestos of a 21st-century person.

What Are YOU Afraid of?

To understand what satisfies a contemporary cinema-goer, we need to distinguish what it is that makes a good horror movie nowadays. The keyword here is nowadays, as the fears of the humankind have altered their form over time.

Stereotypically, horrors are considered low-rated, poor-quality, jump scare-loaded wastes of time. Truthfully speaking, some of them deserve their reputation. Without calling out any names, here is what we mean by this. Stuff that used to freeze people’s blood, say, 80 years ago, looks beyond ridiculous today. And it is not just the lack of visual stimuli that grinds out gears today; it is the message behind the scare.

Politics has always been the underlying element of virtually every frightening story. A large portion of George Orwell’s opus reflects the fears of the then-contemporary public. Margaret Atwood followed the dystopian novel form, which marks the peak of its popularity. Why is that?

While the universal themes remained, the manner in which they are presented has metamorphosed.

In 2019, first-rate horror releases are not so in-your-face. They use these universal, Shakespearean almost, topics to trigger the frightened little mouse in every one of us. Let’s take the new It Chapter 2, directed by Andy Muschietti, as an example.

Sure, the film does not lack creepy facial expressions on behalf of the clown, or his dreadful layered teeth zoomed-in, splattered on the screen. But that’s beyond the point. Scrapping beneath the surface will reveal a universe of childhood trauma and psychological abuse. The monstrous abstract duo drives the plot.

Similar aspects are seen in Joker, starring Joaquin Phoenix, recently presented for the first time at the Toronto Film Festival. Both movies follow the negative impact of neglecting parenting skills that ruin the children’s capability to ever truly adapt to the real world – at least in a healthy way.

What we see in the scary cinema nowadays arguably began in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when the likes of Stanley Kubrick and David Lynch ruled the stage. Whilst they are not overtly horrors, their psychological thrillers emit a sense of upcoming doom. They may have set the foundation for today’s masters like Get Out’s Jordan Peele, or Guillermo del Toro, who is the name behind Pan’s Labyrinth.

Don’t Let a Good Scare Frighten You

Now, when something gets a bit too successful, censorship comes into play. The highly anticipated movie The Hunt, written by Damon Lindelof, who co-wrote the award-winning TV show Lost, recently got cancelled. It is no secret that American president Donald Trump had something against it, maintaining that director Craig Zobel was “racist”, and that he chose the most inappropriate time to set this film in motion. Trump was referring to the recent mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

Studies have shown that millennials are way more informed than we are led to believe. The availability of information has allowed them access to a sea of data that a majority utilises in the right way. As there is so much to read, there’s plenty of misinformation as well, but youngsters are digitally literate and know to differentiate between reliable sources and phonies.

Such intelligent and knowledgeable audience can be hard to please and difficult to trick. They like to play online blackjack for fun, one of the most demanding casino games ever. Furthermore, they enjoy stimulating their brains by solving Chinese IQ puzzles. They find peace in practicing tai chi, thus keeping their cognitive functions sharp as a tack. Besides, they challenge themselves intellectually on a daily basis, regardless of the notorious influence of social media.

Thus filmmakers tweak their releases to fit the needs of their viewers – independent, astute and bright young minds.