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When to Draw the Line for Violence in Horror Films
As more and more films come out, there's seems to be a figurative competition between various film makers and just how much violence they can comprise within his or her films. This may be a product of the reality we now live in daily; violence has become a much more expected state of affairs everyday and we receive much more exposure to such tragic circumstances through the constantly evolving media. Many film makers seem to be under the impression that they have to show excessive amounts of gore and violence to shock the audience because they now have to top whatever is being portrayed in the real world; if people have already seen it, the shock won't be as great.
I find this trend to be an inherently broken one within films because there is only so much the filmmakers can do before the violence and gore is so grotesque that it is over the top and makes the entire film seem rather silly and bizarre. Some filmmakers see excessive amounts of gore as an art form within films and should be appreciated for what it is; fantasy gore that is made to look realistic, but it also lets the audience know that it is fake. That's all well and good, but I think there are far too many movies, horror films in particular, that go too far with the gore and forget what the true essence of horror is; the idea that there is something out there watching us that is not truly understood or known and beyond any form of control.
Horror movies have always been one of my favorites genres, but I have hated the way they have been portrayed over recent years. The producers seems to have this obsession with showing massive amounts of blood and gore to the point that it sacrifices the appeal of watching the movie to get some good jumps and a true feeling of horror underneath our skins; gore can only go so far. Even classics movies that have relied on nearly no gore, such as Halloween and Black Christmas, have been remade with a huge amount of disgusting imaging and over the top gore.
Now, is having a lot of violence bad for a horror movie? Of course not and, when handled correctly, can really add a nice layer of horror to the film and capitalize on the nature of the "slasher" or force of evil. Movie producers seem more concerned though with showing images of people being gutted and their eyes ripped out rather than showing off intense sequences where our own imaginations go wild and keep our hearts pumping until the true horror comes on screen. "Where's the killer", "What's going to happen to this person" are questions that truly make up the heart of a good horror movie.
It's not necessairly about seeing a virgin being stalked into paranoia while the "naughty" kids are being dismembered in some of the most violent fashions, but rather that there is something out there that is ready and willing to attack random, potential victims because of some sort of twisted inclination. What we truly fear and are afraid of is the unknown, not what happens during the unknown. Our fears are nestled in dark, mysterious places where we don't know nor understand what's watching us or what's around the next corner. Fear and horror are uncontrollable elements for the most part and drive are imaginations into truly dark places where we are not sure we can come out okay.
Again, violence can be a useful aspect to further play on horror, but it is far from the true elements that make horror movies true, iconic pieces of art that give us good and harmless scares. The original Halloween and Black Christmas had barely any gore in them and yet it terrified many people because we knew so little of what the characters within the films were up against. In one you had a supernatural killer of whom you have no idea how he got that way or why he kills and in the other you have a deeply disturbed killer who you never see or find out his identity. At the end of both films, the villains are still out there and this very concept leaves our skin crawling at the thought of the unknown, an evil and sinister one as that, still being at large.
I believe horror movies really have to embrace these old characteristics once again and take it a little easier on the gore because it begins to come across as forced and very unbelievable; it gets to a point where it's not even grotesque, but ridiculous. Certain horror films in recent memory have done a fine job such as the original Paranormal Activity in bringing back the concept of the unknown haunting us, but I think more need to embrace such traits.