By Carmen Bordonaro
With the Halloween season finally here, I have found myself reflecting on the concept of the scary movie. The genre of horror films has certainly passed the test of time, and is now a vital aspect of our society’s Hollywood cinema. An interesting question to ponder is how the horror film has changed over time to adapt and become relevant for a new generation of moviegoers. It is very interesting to think that at this time thirty years ago, there was a much different idea of what is truly scary than there is today.
By looking at the evolution of the scare in the form of a timeline, we can see an interesting trend regarding how our society perceives being scared. Let it be known that this article will not be an in-depth look into the entire history of horror films, but a look into some of the more recent changes that most of us would have experienced. On the first step in the timeline, we have the old school slasher movie, which incorporates the use of a psychotic maniac who never seems to actually die. For a long period of time, some of the scariest names that would terrorize people’s dreams were Michael Myers, Jason Voorhees, Freddie Kruger, and Chucky. At that point, nothing was more frightening than walking
through your house alone in the dark or making the trip home from a friend’s house late at night. We as the viewers associated these situations with the actual potential of being chased by a homicidal maniac during the course of our daily activities. In hindsight though, it is actually somewhat funny to think of right now, considering I always make light of the fact that a walking psychotic killer always finds a way to outrun the screaming sprinting pedestrian running for his or her life. But it is examples like this that show how much things have changed from generation to generation, considering there was nothing scarier than this at the time of its first creation.
In more recent times, we have seen a huge shift away from the psychological killer towards thrillers involving demons and ghostly spirits. Granted, we can see that there has always been a constant stream of films involving possessions or demonic presences, taking “The Exorcist” as an example, but recently the scariest movies that come to mind incorporate two key elements. First and foremost, it seems that most movies are trying to be more realistic, insuring that the audience feels like this experience could happen when they go home. Some of the best examples of this new style include the “Paranormal Activity” series as well as films from the director James Wan, whose most recent films include “Insidious: Chapter 2” and “The Conjuring”. All of these movies incorporate a demonic presence and have proven to be the new recipe for creating successful films for the big screen.
There are numerous other examples that fit this trend of changing views regarding scary films. It seems like for the time being, our society is completely terrified with the whole concept of having an element of the supernatural stalk you within your home. I have to be honest, after my first viewing of “Insidious” last year, I started to get this very eerie sense when I would walk through my house at night. In my opinion, that’s the truest sign of a successful scary movie, when even after the film has ended, that sense of being scared is still embedded in the back of your mind. The only thing I can say is I am very excited to find out what’s in store as our society begins to transition away from the demonic movies and begins to focus on a new style that some future big name director may not have even thought up yet.