Question: Where Are the good Horror Movies?

Can someone please give me a good answer?

The horrifying Michael Myers, of Halloween fame has no idea

For those of us who find a certain satisfaction in paying for a movie with hopes of getting terrified, we have been left unsatisfied for the most part. Horror movies of the last decade for the most part have been unable to leave me checking dark corners. They have been unsuccessful in spooking me so much that I don’t feel safe within the confines of my own home….and this worries me.

Now a question that I seem to get from people who don’t enjoy the horror genre, “Why would you want to get scared while watching a movie?” I suffer from what is known as THE HORROR PARADOX. For me, watching a unexpectedly great horror movie is an incredible experience. It is equivalent to how a person who loves roller coasters feels when they find a bad-ass coaster inside of a seemingly unflattering theme park. It’s the same feeling for me as it is for an avid snowboarder when he or she finds that perfect, steep slope in the middle of a snowy, Colorado winter day. It’s enough to leave me excited for the next six months after seeing the movie.

As much as I love comedies or a good dramatic movie, I never have anywhere near as much fun in a theater as when I’m checking out a horror movie. With all of this being said, I don’t get to experience this feeling very often. Most horror movies released in this day and age lack one or more of these key characteristics of a great horror movie: story, scare factor and common sense.

STORY: Look, I don’t need a Lord of the Rings-esque story. Some of the best movies succeed with even the simplest of stories. Take a look at Jaws. Police chief wants to close a beach because of a man-eating shark but city council over rules him. Chief gets help to stop shark. Simple, basic yet effective story line that cruised its way to millions of dollars in revenue on a $9 million budget. Here is the problem with today’s movies: They don’t make sense. And when they do make sense, the story is ruined by writers attempting to get too cute and throw in unnecessary side plots or twists. Let’s use 2011’s Insidious for example. Although it’s one of my favorite horror movies of the last 15 years, it ultimately fails in the story category. For the first 45 minutes, the movie was blowing me away with its great story and overall creepiness. After all of this beautiful work, the writers almost destroy the third act by trying to out think themselves with a ridiculous story element and a showing a villain who probably doubles as a descendant of Darth Maul.

Insidious villain

SCARE FACTOR: To some people, the most needed element of a horror movie(not exactly my #1 but more on that later.) You need to be able to scare the crap out of the audience. In my opinion, less is more. I don’t need to see the mass of creepy often at all in order to be terrified. It just needs to show up enough in the movie so that I don’t forget who it is. Slashers can be the exception to the rule but supernatural movies(my favorite) need to be discreet with their ghost appearances. Loud sounds are necessary along with eerie music. Throw children in the mix and you have a good chance and scaring me. Although most scenes have been done before, lets at least try to be creative. Some of the creepiest movies involve children. For instance, do you think The Ring or Ringu would have been as scary if Samaya had been a 34 year old woman? Not at all. We’ve all seen Orphan…how much creepier was that plot twist with the child actress? I rest my case.

Samaya Morgan

COMMON SENSE: Enough with the women who can’t seem to find their footing when in the face of danger. I understand you may not think and act with your right mind while being scared, but I feel that if I’m being chased, I’d be even more careful with each stride I made. You wouldn’t see me or most people I know stumbling over tree branches while staring the villain down as he cuts them to bits. It makes no real sense to me. This is why common sense is the most important part of a horror film. I need to feel as if the characters did everything in their power to survive. I need to be able to relate to the characters and not be able to guess someone will die because they can’t stop having sex. I believe the father from Orphan was one of the dumbest on-screen characters in a horror film. So catastrophically dumb that I began rooting for his death in the movie. These type of characters can take the viewer away from the main purpose of the film and allow our minds to stray. The same thing needs to be applied to the antagonists also. It was acknowledged that Michael Myers wasn’t the brightest crayon in the box but when it was time for business to get handled, Michael always seemed the like the smartest guy in the movie. He showed no mercy and while walking at the speed of the Rapture, he showed patience when stalking his prey. If the almost superhuman villains can’t even show some common sense, why should we be afraid of them?

Family from Orphan

As hard as it is to make a movie with all three of these qualities, I don’t think it’s impossible at all. Take some great writers and a good director and you’ve got a delightful recipe for disaster. Maybe the end of 2011 will finish nicely and bring some horror that will get the world talking again. Until then, I may have to write my own script or rewatch any Adam Sandler movie from 2003 until now.

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9 thoughts on “Question: Where Are the good Horror Movies?

  1. Paul D. Dail says:

    Some good points here (and a few good laughs, as well. Yeah, the dad in The Orphan was an idiot if I recall correctly. And no The Ring probably wouldn’t have been as scary with a 34 year old woman). However, I think the lack of common sense has been an issue for several decades when it comes to horror victims being chased (didn’t they say something about this in Scream?)

    Fun post. I don’t get the opportunity to get out to the movies very often, so you’ll have to let me know when one comes out that’s worth my $8, plus popcorn and a drink.

    Paul D. Dail A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

    • Mos Jones says:

      You’re right….lack of common sense has probably been an issue for several decades. I feel as if over time, people should be able to come up with more original motives and personalities for the characters so that the audience can relate more. It’s hard for me to take a character serious when they keep making moves that me nor anyone I know would make.

      I’ll definitely let you know when the good movies are released…I’m not sure how the rest of this year will turn out but hopefully some better films will be released.

  2. cwalke25 says:

    I agree, I haven’t been horrified by any movie in a very long time. I hate the fact that movies have changed. One movie that I found really creepy was “The Skeleton Key”. That one movie genuinely scared me. after seeing a few times, It’s lost its scariness, but good nonetheless. Writers didn’t try to make some flashy plot and the acting was good too.

    • Mos Jones says:

      I actually liked “The Skeleton Key”….it was a nice change of pace from normal horror films and if I remember right, the ending was great. Have you seen Insidious? I think you would enjoy that film and it might give you a scare or two.

  3. Sebastian says:

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  4. I’ve never been a big horror fan, but that is because horror movies do not scare anymore. Most horror movies I’ve seen have been quite laughable. Those movies have become so formulaic. Throw a couple of hot actors and actresses in with a bunch of blood and guts. Maybe an evil little boy or girl and that’s your movie. None of the plots are original, they are all badly derived from an earlier work. I can’t tell you the last time I’ve went to a movie theater to watch a horror film and I do not think I plan on attending any in the future.

    • Mos Jones says:

      Your formula seems to be so true about so many movies that I’ve seen so I can completely understand you skipping out on horror releases. If you enjoy supernatural stuff, you might like some of the Paranormal Activity movies. Those seem to be a bit different from most horror movies that I’ve seen.

      • Paul D. Dail says:

        Agreed on Paranormal Activity. You never really see anything, but it’s good and freaky. With some of my somnambulistic tendencies, I think that movie actually scared my wife even more (of course, she’s not really good with scary movies to begin with).

        And yeah, down with the formula. As a writer, I’m seeing so many people say that we have to crank out a book every year or two (at the most) to keep readers interested. But I think when that happens, you lose any creativity or sense of real story. And you get the formula.

        Paul D. Dail A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

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