The Modern Horror Renaissance
Horror has never quite been a respected genre of filmmaking. While there have been the occasional critical darlings like The Silence of the Lambs, for the most part, horror films have been treated as lowbrow thrill fests that shrink under a critical eye, but that all seems to be changing in recent years.
We’ve seen something of an explosion in well received and, importantly, financially successful horror films over the past few years. The almost meteoric success of films like Get Out, A Quiet Place and IT, have challenged the conventionally accepted wisdom in Hollywood that horror films are not a viable path to financial or critical acclaim.
The success of these films, alongside the success of other R-rated properties like Deadpool and Logan, represent something of a tone shift in the way that studios are approaching cinema. They demonstrate a willingness to go out on a limb and create films that are not necessarily for everyone but are focused enough to draw out a dedicated following that might otherwise choose to stay at home and watch films on streaming.
Streaming itself has played a non-inconsequential part in this shift. There have been a number of horror films that saw a limited release in cinemas but found success and cult followings on streaming platforms. This could be interpreted in two ways: people are more likely to watch horror films on streaming or horror films could find more success if they had a wider release and more publicity.
The current glut in horror films seems to be indicating that the second interpretation has some value to it, particularly as we are now seeing consistent horror releases year-round, rather than in the traditional Halloween and January dumping spots.
For now, I’m more than happy to just focus on the variety and depth of the horror films that we are getting. Increased studio support means that we’ve been seeing more and more experimentation, alongside what is essentially very good filmmaking and performances – an element that has sometimes been sorely missed from horror films in the past.
All I can say is that I can’t wait to see what I get scared by next.