If you ask me, the last great decade of horror was the 1980s. Believing this makes me feel incredibly old. I've tried. I've really tried to enjoy new horror movies that have come out in recent times and I just can't enjoy any of them. Just today, I was flipping through Netflix and I find myself cringing at every new title I come across. I feel like the genre is devoid of creativity right now. It's rife with derivative works by people who, despite claiming to be fans of horror, seem to have no clue how to make a genuinely good horror film.
I don't know what will ring in the next "new dimension of horror", but I can tell you what isn't working. Here are five horror subgenres that have played themselves out and have overstayed their welcomes. It's time to put them back in the box and let them for a few decades.
5 - Exorcism Movies
What is the sudden resurgence in exorcism movies? I've watched my share and it seems to me like they're just remaking the Exorcist with shakier cameras. You can slap "based on a true story" all you want, it doesn't change the fact that it's all derivative. You see one exorcism movie you've seen them all. Some woman is possessed by the devil (or a reasonable facsimile) and some priest shouts at it until it's gone. If you were to plot out the formula for these movies it would read like instructions for making scrambled eggs.
Also, you ever notice that it's only young women who are possessed in these movies? Have you ever seen any "real" exorcism videos on the internet? They're rarely nubile virgins.
If I wanted to watch young girls thrash about and say filthy things to old men, I'd watch porn.
Look, Satan isn't real, ergo exorcisms are not scary. Ritualistic Satanic Abuse has been debunked, "demonic possession" is just mental illness and priests who perform exorcists are well-meaning idiots at best, or opportunistic snake oil salesmen at the worst.
4 - Creepy Mask Movies
Ever since the Purge became a popular franchise, people seem to be jumping on this "creepy mask" thing and inserting them into horror movies. Sure, there are some iconic masks out there in horror movie land. However, none of them amount to a dirty kabuki mask with "God" scrawled on it. That's not the making of a terrifying killer, it's the makings of vapid idiots who think wearing a Guy Fawkes mask makes them seem deep and edgy. Most of these movies run through the same old song and dance as the first
Purge movie, where average people are subjected to very annoying house invasions by douchebags in stupid masks. These characters always have some sort of warped sense of anarchy that reads like a Livejournal post. If you're wondering if people still use Livejournal, yes, yes they do. Think about how sad that is and you've basically captured my position on these boring characters who spend half their screen time looking at video cameras with their heads tilted at odd angles or parading around with some kind of blunt object.
Oh, this is some thinly veiled commentary about the different classes that exist in modern American society? How boring. If I wanted some kind of Esops fable about how fucked up society is, I'd turn on the evening news.
3 - Haunting Movies. Especially Ones With "Paranormal" in the Title
You notice that all of the items on this list usually fall in that "found footage" category? That's not a coincidence. Anyway, much like exorcism movies, movies about hauntings. It's basically the same concept, only with less creativity. They all follow the same trope. Weird shit happens in a house, people set up cameras, catch ghosts in the act. Jump scares abound. Etc. etc. etc.
It's like someone has watched a bunch of ghost hunting shows and tried to make the idea of ghost hunting seem interesting, but failing miserably. This is because they're basically doing the cinematic equivalent as copying the answers off the kid sitting next to you during a test.
Ghosts are kids stuff and haunted houses are a joke. You kind of stop thinking ghosts are scary once you've masturbated in an old prison that is supposed to be haunted and don't get interrupted by anyone but the janitor who chases you out of the gallows because it is after hours. Which I have totally done,
Also, have you watched any "real" ghost hunting? It's a bunch of people with empty lives wasting hours of time with EMF readers that are clearly picking up the electrical currents in the building they are in, pouring over photos of dust particles caught on film, and hours upon hours of audio of an empty room straining to hear random words. The only way you can make ghosts entertaining is by taking lecherous yet quirky scientists and have them blast ghosts with unregulated particle weapons.
2 - The Requil
While Disney has the monopoly on cashing in on nostalgia these days, the attempts are not exclusively there. Horror movies are taking a page from Star Wars by trying to take us back to horror franchises from better days. The problem with that are twofold: First, there are so many shitty sequels between the fondly remembered movies in the franchise that most filmmakers just toss them out. Second, is time. Time ravages everything we care about, that goes double for entertainment.
Alien: Covenant stank, Texas Chainsaw 3-D was a god-awful mess, Phantasm Ravager was a disjointed disappointment and five-gets-you-ten the new Halloween movie that is coming out later this year is not going to be any better. The main problem is the fact that these movies are made out of the era in which they came from. Bringing in Jamie Lee Curtis and Tony Moran is not going to make for a good movie. They're both in their sixties. If you think a direct sequel to the original Halloween which features a 60-year-old slasher is going to be good, you're out of your mind.
If Texas Chainsaw 3-D proved anything, putting a 30+ year gap between two movies and ignoring all the sequels in-between makes for a really unimpressive outing. We're supposed to believe that Michael Myers was just ruminating for revenge all this time and doing anything about it?That's really putting playing out the long con for so little payout.
1 - Zombies
If the zombie movie subgenre could be compared to anything in real life, it would be one of those stories where a woman has been kidnapped and forced to live in captivity for 18+ years doing all sorts of unspeakable things before finally breaking free and have to reintegrate into society. Only zombie movies haven't figured out how to kick out a window while Josef Fritzel is trying to make up excuses for his wife why there are all sorts of inbred babies hanging around, and going to the store for milk.
We've had zombies of all sorts. Walking zombies, running zombies. Zombies that climb walls. Zombies that can find love again. Zombies have done it all. They've been to space. They've been on a plane. They have been the product of science gone wrong, voodoo curses, demonic possession, and farts.
Then there are all the movies that are sequels (official or otherwise) to George Romero's various zombie movies. They're still making them. George hasn't even been in the ground for a year and people are still making shitty movies based off his works. (Night of the Living Dead: Rebirth anybody?)
Zombie movies have played themselves out for the time being. How about trying to suck the life out of some other easy public doman movie monster instead?