Why Horror Is So Hard to Get Right

Genuine moments of pure horror are extremely difficult to replicate, but why is that? Literary geniuses such as Stephen King have no problem illustrating the feeling in the pages of books, but when it comes to film, it’s something that few have been able to achieve. The more casual audiences amongst us would likely disagree with this statement, citing that they were terrified by what they saw in films like Paranormal Activity and The Conjuring. While they indeed may have been scared, it’s unlikely they unexperienced horror. These films need a change in genre as the title that they fall under is rather misleading to what is exhibited by those films. Many of the films that Hollywood produces fall victim to this, and only a few have successfully broken the mould.

The Unholy is one film that came out this year that is the perfect suspect of what many alleged horror films seem to do. It is a masterclass in everything in what not to do in a horror movie, which is disappointing seeing as how it was one of the first of the genre to come out following movie theatres opening once again. The story is lacklustre, and that itself is a major problem for the film. Horror relies on having a good story as its backbone because, without it, the movie is just an exercise in scaring the audience. Good horror films will have a compelling narrative that breaks up these moments of horror, as the audience are much more likely to be terrified when they are invested in what is happening and they can comprehend the consequences of what they are seeing on the screen.

Another trope that horror films seem to do is an overreliance on jump scares. This is arguably the cheapest, most low effort form of horror possible, and yet directors seem to enjoy plaguing their movies with them. They are so popular because they are guaranteed to get a visceral response, humans are naturally going to react to any flashing visual accompanied by a loud sound. Despite this, genuine horror simply cannot be attained through these means. It is too artificial. This is compared to how some movies do not rely on jump scares to terrify the audience. Instead, these infinitely better flicks opt on a careful, considered, cultivated build-up of tension that seems like it will never end. This dread is something that is key to any good horror film, but unfortunately, it is also something that is rarely seen in films of today.

The Exorcist remains the golden standard of horror, despite being nearly 50 years old. The fact that it was the first horror film to have been nominated for best picture is a testament to its greatness and should be the guide that aspiring directors of horror should utilise. The movie features hardly any of the tropes already aforementioned and is truly a masterful exercise in the world of horror.

Now that the pandemic is showing signs of ending, people are beginning to get out and enjoy the things they used to do. This included activities such as gambling at site like here, and of course, watching films. Only time will tell whether the industry evolves into creating great horror films again, but for now, fans of horror will have to painfully wait.

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