In the fall of 2014, the horror genre began to shine a little brighter for mainstream audiences. Horror movies found their way to theatres in time for Halloween, while video games also had their fair share of horror. Some of them went on to become pop culture phenomena (Five Nights at Freddy’s).
The popularity spike of spookiness appeared to be here to stay, even into the early months of 2016, with flicks such as The Forest, The Boy, and Lights Out.
Horror connoisseurs (myself included) normally look forward to the annual influx of fresh horror media that’s released in the fall. Every year I open up my Internet, go to IMDb, and check out what frights I have to look forward to.
This year, however, my excitement disappeared quicker than a loud jump scare. This fall is a bleak one for horror, and not in a good way. Fans of horror — seasonally or generally — seem to be experiencing a horror fatigue, whether it’s movies or video games.
“What horror needs is more gems like Don’t Breathe.”
The first problem is (and it kills me to say this) the superhero blockbuster. Moviegoers have seen not one, but five comic-book releases in 2016 so far. Because of all of the hype that surrounds these movies, the few horror movies that were released around these flicks were swept under the rug.
This year, two major horror movies arrived in theatres. Two. Blair Witch and Ouija: Origin of Evil. And herein lies the second problem with this fall’s horror: redundancy. Despite being high-budget, modern horror movies consistently follow a predictable formula that includes loud, abrupt sounds with CGI ghosts and some shaky camera footage. It undermines what makes horror cinema and gaming exciting and enjoyable, which is the anticipation of the unexpected. The formula gets stale, and audiences lose interest.
What’s more, they’re either sequels or, more generally, exercises in blatant brand recognition. The fifth iteration of Five Nights at Freddy’s might as well have been Look, Loud Noise and also a Furry 5. Ouija: Origin of Evil might as well be called Spookier Transformers: Buy Our Stuff (by Hasbro).
The lack of originality in these horror movies, and a genuine love for the genre, leaves fans with a bad taste in their mouths, and it seems that audiences abroad have smartened up to the cut-and-paste strategies seen in big company spook-fests.
What horror needs is more gems like Don’t Breathe, The Witch, or The Babadook. These were low-budget indie movies made out of sparse props and a lot of TLC. The results were unique, terrifying experiences.
Overall, my point is not that horror has died a gruesome death this fall. Rather, it is hibernating, to hopefully usher in a 2017 that puts scariness back on its feet, at the ready to scare the pants off of audiences everywhere, with video games and cinema alike. Until then, enjoy the classics, and enjoy the Halloween season nonetheless!