The State of Modern Horror: Sequels, Slasher Films and Torture Porn

torture porn
The Conjuring is the first horror movies to really scare me in years

Sequels, Slasher Films and Torture Porn: What has happened to modern Horror?

So I know I’m a little late to the game with this one, but I just watched The Conjuring for the first time.  It scared the hell out of me, and I thought it was fantastic.  It was a perfect blend of modern tastes with old school horror philosophies.  It took an old fashioned, haunted house concept and modernized it in a way that simply made it ‘cool’.  Quite frankly, it was a refreshing experience for me (a huge fan of horror, especially around Halloween time) in an era where movies just don’t scare me any more.  The horror genre right now is a world that is made almost entirely of sequels, reboots, copycat slasher films and endless amounts of what we call torture porn.

So, that being said, what is my opinion on the current state of Horror?  I think that it isn’t good. The last decade has been poor.  Not entirely fruitless, which I’ll discuss, but overall I don’t like the direction is has been going, and after seeing a film like The Conjuring, I hope that it can improve.

So here are some of the themes that define the current state of horror.

Slasher Films:

The slasher film, since it came into it’s prime popularity in the 1980’s, has become one of the most popular movie genres, not just horror genres, in the world.  With the likes of John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’ and the equally famous ‘Nightmare On Elm Street’, it has a fine history, and there have been some modern efforts that were certainly of a high quality, such as the ever popular ‘Scream’ by Wes Craven.  The slasher film is one that has been over done though, since it became popular again, and unfortunately it has been a long, long time since there was a good one.  This may be because it has simply run it’s course, and all new entrants are just doing the same things as their predecessors.  Until someone can bring something to the table, I’ve had quite enough.

torture porn
Michael Myers was much scarier before the remakes began

Sequels, Remakes and Reboots:

One of the biggest themes in modern horror, is that there are endless sequels.  Something about the horror genre, allows for film studios to just keep cranking these things out, knowing that they’ll have an audience for them.  A prime is the Scream franchise – a great film leads to 3 not so good sequels.  The SAW series is also an even worse example, as the first couple movies were absolutely brilliant, original and borderline groundbreaking, while the five, yes FIVE following were downright bad.

Then, there is the more recent trend of studios remaking, or rebooting, old classics.  Halloween, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street all for really, really bad remakes or reboots.  More recently, Carrie has been remade.  Evil Dead was a reboot of the original classic, and while it wasn’t terrible, it certainly wasn’t original.  Some were genuine attempts to recreate a great concept, while some are clearly just crap movies, using a famous name to sell them.  Fair enough, but don’t expect me to watch them.

Torture Porn:

Now here is a subject that really bothers me.  But before I say I hate it, let me be clear.  The movie SAW is often credited with kicking off the recent fascination with this genre in American movie culture.  Perhaps that’s true.  But the movie SAW was also genuinely original, moody, atmospheric, scary and has a wonderful twist.  As did SAW 2.  Now, it’s sequels, and most of the other films in this genre, are just flat out attempts to gross us out.  The Hostel series.  The Human Centipede.  That’s probably the worst example.  I mean, these films are just flat out not scary.  They might make you ill if you’re squeamish, and perhaps there’s a market for them.  I won’t argue that.  My point is, they aren’t horror movies, because horror movies are supposed to scare you.

torture porn
The SAW sequels removed all the scares and plot, and just added more gore.

To me, it’s a sad state of affairs.  When I watch a film like The Omen, or The Exorcist, I’m left with something.  I experience a feeling of dread, during and after the film because of the concept, it’s presentation and the horrible fears it’s plays too.  When I watch a film like Halloween, I’m seeing a film that is shot with such precision and every image is designed to play to real fears that we have.  It’s easy to chop somebody’s head off on screen.  But the payoff is no more than a quick burst of excitement.  The payoffs in a real horror movie, last a lot longer.  It’s a combination of the quick scares, and the slow burn.

That’s what’s missing these days.

Now, the good news is that there are good horror films out there.  Paranormal Activity was a cool idea, and it represented an innovative and original movie full of scares.  Unfortunately, it was beaten to death by a mass of copy cats and sequels, and it no longer holds the same originality.  But films like Insidious and The Conjuring are bright sparks in a dark, dark state of horror and we can only hope that movie makers recognize that there are people out there who want to be scared on Halloween, the way that we used to be.

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