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The State of Horror Films Today
Horror films today have almost become a joke. They rely to heavily on gore and shock value hoping to get the viewer to jump out of their seats. Horror films in the seventies and eighties didn't have much gore and had little shock value but the thing that made them so scary was how it made you feel after you watched it. Many of the elements in horror films of that day are mainstays in horror films of today. The Exorcist was one of the first films of its kind to have a demon pitted against the protagonist who had lost his faith, which is seen regularly now. The Exorcist when it was released also brought exorcisms into the consciousness of the public and spawned a demonic possession craze in horror films that still is present even today. Today's horror films also mostly consist of remakes, and an obscene amount of gore sadly.
This article will go over the horror films of today and talk about where the films succeed and fail.
The Saw series started in 2004 and while the first one still remains to be the best of all seven films, this series is one of the first films to bring about the trend in horror films today aptly named "torture porn". The first film was so successful due to the fact that it had a great deal of suspense tied to it and a great amount of dread behind it all with a competent, well-written script. As the series went on the plot became more complex and even more confusing while the sheer violence kept increasing. The writers kept trying to out do themselves with the most disgusting ways to kill a person in each film. All the while, the films may be entertaining but definitely not for the faint of heart.
This series also had many directors including James Wan, Darren Lynn Bousman, David Hackl, Kevin Greutert with Leigh Whannell writing most films and Tobin Bell starred as the Jigsaw killer.
Kevin Williamson wrote the script to the first film in response to the Gainesville Ripper and his childhood obsession with horror films. All the while he wanted to poke fun at the genre as well, and that is why the series has garnered all this fame. While the films are that of horror, it separates itself just because of the comedy that is present in each film.The series has lasted four films thus far and apparently the most recent addition to the series is the supposed start to a new trilogy.
The 4th film had the original three actors still intact with Neve Campbell, David Arquette and Courtney Cox while adding Emma Roberts, Rory Culkin and Hayden Panettiere. The film didn't do well in the box office but may have been the best in the series despite the similarities to the first film. It was incredibly funny however how they made fun of the fact that Saw had seven films in between the time of release of the third Scream and the fourth, it's almost as if Kevin Williamson and Wes Craven were annoyed by this.
A Nightmare on Elm Street
Here is one of the most recent remakes of a classic horror film. Wes Craven's original version of Nightmare was a classic starring Robert Englund in the iconic role of Freddy Krueger. This new film was directed by Samuel Bayer and Craven had no involvement. At first they wanted to create a new story to the film but instead went ahead and used the first films story with a few modifications. While the film was generally the same as Wes Craven's version it wasn't nearly as good. The pacing of the film was a bit off and the makeup on Jackie Earle Haley's face to make him into Freddy Krueger looked worse then it did in the original. Surprisingly they even tried to redo some of the classic scenes from the original and some of them are done well, a majority of them are not.
Friday the 13th
Marcus Nispel directed this remake of the iconic slasher film and in the process of making the film he and the writers decided to combine elements of the original films into one. The film starts with Jason's mother being murdered by people attending Camp Crystal Lake and skips forward to people looking to party there.They start a campfire and tell stories of the woman that went insane and killed people in the camp. Little did that they knew, Jason was still around the camp and quickly dispatched of them all as they were either having sex or getting high. Skip another few months or so and rinse and repeat. Thus the film is pretty spot on with the originals and doesn't do any more or less to improve upon itself.
Let Me In
Let Me In is a horror remake of the swedish film Let the Right One In. So it is a remake, but different then the previous two in the fact that this is the first time it's been adapted for American audiences. It is directed by Matt Reeves (Cloverfield) and stars Chloe Grace Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee. Moretz stars as a vampire named Abby who befriends her neighbor, a loner named Owen who is frequently bullied. It can be argued that the film is a dark romance in the fact that Abby protects Owen and genuinely cares for his well-being. Owen also cares for her as she is the only one that has ever loved him. However, this film also has some chilling moments, mostly the ending. The original was still better, but this version still stayed very true to the source content.
The John Carpenter version starring Kurt Russell still remains to be one of the best sci-fi horror films to date. This remake has been in development for quite some time but no one really knows yet if it is a direct remake or a prequel or even a sequel. It has the same idea as John Carpenter's version that was pretty faithful to source content, the novella Who Goes There. From the looks of the recent trailer it looks like a possible prequel of the people that arrived before R.J MacReady and company but it isn't confirmed. Not much is known of the film yet but it does release in October of this year, and if it is anything like John Carpenter's version it could easily be on of the best horror films of recent memory.
This series remains to be one of the most terrifying movie going experiences as of recent memory and other films have tried to capitalize on the success of it (Quarantine tried to, Paranormal Entity and Insidious). The first film was simple, it followed a couple as the woman, Katie, in the relationship began to worry that they were being haunted so the man, Micah, decided to video tape the house 24/7. As the film progresses the entity inside the house becomes increasingly violent. The second film in the series follows Katie's sister, Kristi, and how she begins to notice strange occurrences around her household when she has a baby boy. While most of the scares in the second film were mostly a repeat performance from the first that didn't make them any less scary. The second also was a prequel to the first and the ending continued from where the first left off setting up what could be a very terrifying third film. All of the films thus far have been low budget and doesn't really show any gore or big scary monsters. The films work so well because they rely on the imagination of the viewer which can be much more terrifying then anything they could show.