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The Death of the Horror Movie
Working in a video rental store, I often get asked "What's a good horror movie?" The answer, I've decided, is non-existent. I often ask in return, "Do you want a good movie, or a horror movie?" Because these days, finding a movie that is both is easier said than done, and finding a horror movie that is truly scary is an even greater feat.
To start, there's this new vagueness of what it is exactly that makes a horror movie a horror movie. There are so many "suspense thrillers" today containing what used to be the criteria for horror, and so many "hor-films" that just end up being "gore-films." ATTENTION FILM MAKERS: There's a difference between being so scared that you're physically sick and being so grossed out that you're physically sick. And why does it seem like every new slasher film that comes our way also comes with the most ridiculous story-line we've ever heard? The story-line is usually so ridiculous in fact, that any truly scary parts are lost on us. All of these things have made me believe that the horror film may just be gone for good.
Second, there's the issue of the sensitivity of the watcher. Today, it would appear we've seen it all. From slashing, to beheading, dismemberment and torture, there's nothing we haven't been exposed to visually. This takes away the shock-value, and that aspect has been key in many of history's most-impacting horror movies. When The Exorcist first opened in 1973, my dad attended one of the first showings in his hometown of Oklahoma City. He told me that when the movie was over and everyone was leaving, there were tons of people in the lobby crying, praying, and even vomiting. He explained to me that at that time, the things in the movie had never been shown before, never been seen. It was the shock-value of the film that made it one of the best horror movies of all time. When my twelve-year-old niece watched the movie for the first time a few weeks ago, she described it as "more creepy than scary" and once you've seen one for the first time, the luster is gone. You've been desensitized.
To finish, it would seem that such popular horror films as The Exorcist, The Ring, and the more-recent Paranormal Activity have one thing in common. They all showed us something we had yet to see. But have we run out of things that are new to us? Is there anything left to "wow" us with? 2013's remake of Evil Dead promised to scare us, but instead just raised the stock value for Pepto-Bismol. Therefore, aside from a few brief moments of resurrection, it would appear that the horror movie is, in fact, dead and gone. May it rest in peace.