Do you think modern horror is stupid nowadays? With the whole paranormal activity sequels and? And in recent years, found footages are getting a bad rap of being "cliched" "over the top" and "unnecessary elements" in the plots and characters. I'm not saying this because I absolutely despise horror and I'm not a "squeaky clean" person. But many critics complain about modern horror not being good presently. Just curious since you love horror movies and other movies of the like I suppose... ^ ^;
It isn’t necessarily that modern horror is “stupid”, per se, but that our current social/political and economical climate isn’t conducive to original, inventive, cutting-edge horror.
While horror films are some of the easiest to turn a profit from (much more so than, say, a drama or a romantic comedy), they’re also some of the easiest to fall into creative stagnation. When a particular feature gains popularity, it becomes relentlessly exploited until audiences become sick of it, and move along to the next big thing.
For example, after The Blair Witch Project (1999), “found footage” horror came into style in a big way, even though that particular method of marketing and storytelling had already been done nearly two decades prior with Cannibal Holocaust (1980). What made the template so appealing is that independent filmmakers could shoot a feature on digital without the need for expensive equipment, as it actually benefited the production to look “raw”. Of course, nowadays, the digital medium has garnered more respect, and the technology now boasts crisper imagery than it did back then (films like 28 Days Later (2002) helped to break down the stigma that had been associated with shooting a feature on digital). “Found footage” enjoyed a second renaissance after the success of V/H/S (2012), but what producers and financiers fail to take into account is that a film becomes most successful when it’s bringing something new to the table. With V/H/S, there came the simultaneous familiarity and departure of the VHS format, and it also appealed to the sort of crowd interested in trading “video mixtapes”. Everything “retro” has come into style in a big way in the last few years, and outdated media formats are no exception. However, even this has a shelf life, as V/H/S: Viral (2014)–the third installment in the franchise–has been met with generally negative reviews and overall indifference.
Filmmaking relies heavily on having a “draw”, or an element to exploit–something to catch the attention of potential audiences. Exploitation cinema is not the only subgenre that thrives on ballyhoo. We have come to a point now where a lot of cinematic taboos have been breached, and we’re left with very few options when it comes to giving audiences something they’ve never seen before. When one has explored every trail and tree, the forest holds much less allure.
Filmmaking also revolves more around profits than it honestly should. Potential producers are less likely to finance anything that doesn’t have a guaranteed return. If it lacks certain exploitable elements, lacks notable names, and strays too far from a recognized template, it’s practically dead in the water. Sure, there are breakout hits here and there, but breakout hits are just what the name implies: They succeed because they manage to excel in some way. A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) succeeded just as the slasher genre was waning by introducing a supernatural element that allowed for surreal imagery and fantastic setpieces. Darren Aronofsky‘s Pi (1998) (not a horror film, per se, but horror fans should definitely take notice) was a breakout indie hit–and launched the director’s career–because it took the mundane concept of mathematics, and made it tense, stylish, and thought-provoking. The Cabin in the Woods (2012) was a hit because it took every tired, overused horror cliché, and validated them in the most unexpected way possible.
Another obstacle currently facing the genre is the recent resurgence of the “moral majority” and the “political correctness” plague, and this time, the bulk of the backlash isn’t coming from the far right, but from the far left (because let’s face it–if it was coming from the same people that it did two decades ago, no one would give a shit. We’d still be laughing at them). While older horror films have finally been granted uncensored releases, newer films are still being butchered left and right by the ever-vigilant MPAA–not only for language, but for violent content. The only means of circumventing this is to be the fattest cat with the biggest wallet (Spielberg once got away with graphically ripping someone’s face off in a PG film, but Wes Craven wasn’t allowed to have a large splash of blood in an R-rated one two years later). We’re seriously in a time now where people don’t even want to allow villains to be villainous. The entire point of having a “bad guy” is to have a negative force to focus our hatred and fear on in a fictional setting, and the PC-police won’t allow them to say anything “offensive”. It’s as though no one ever wants to be out of their comfort zone, even in a safe, controlled environment. No one wants to feel anything (except moral outrage, of course). Human beings need to experience the entire spectrum of emotion in order to remind us of our own humanity. You’re afraid? Good. It means you’re still alive. Once again, the media is being blamed for violence, despite already having had numerous studies delving into the notion coming up empty-handed. Humanity always wants a scapegoat to avoid acknowledging our own highly-flawed system of beliefs.
“What? His parents never paid attention to him as a child? They disregarded his feelings? They abused him? Don’t be absurd! It was those horror movies and video games that made him do it!”
We’re walking on eggshells now. Nothing can be too “mean”, even if the entire point of the movie is to scare the living shit out of the audience. But, I digress.
In the end, there is no surefire recipe for “good” horror, and honestly, it’s for the best. A good horror film does exactly what it should–it comes out of nowhere, and gives you a solid jolt. These days, we’ve been seeing a tremendous glut of remakes and reboots, with a good portion of them failing miserably. The financiers of these films are simply trying to further milk an established fan base with little regard for the quality or integrity of the films. Sure, a movie can make money over a weekend, but is anyone going to give a damn about it ten years down the line? Is anyone even going to remember it? Good horror rarely comes from the people grabbing you by the arm and forcing it down your throat. Good horror comes from taking chances. If we never take chances–if we live in fear of “offending” people, or try to follow someone else’s guidelines of what is “acceptable”–then we’re just like one of those little Hot Wheels cars going around and around the same track until we inevitably veer off-course and crash into the side of the fridge.