Throughout the genre’s existence, horror hasn’t really been taken all that seriously.
Usually when there’s a spate of horror films, it’s because Hollywood releases ones that are cheap to make – as you can be in the black with them opening weekend.
Now TheWrap is wondering why the recent group of horror films went in the toilet at the box office, including Fright Night, which got good reviews, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, and Final Destination 5, as well as Scream 4, which tanked earlier this year.
So what happened?
Apparently the same thing that’s going on with a lot of movies in general, same tired old sh*t.
Final Destination screenwriter Jeffrey Reddick told TheWrap, “People are wanting something new and original, and I think if you look at the films that have come out – strong as they were – they were remakes and sequels.”
There’s also speculation summer’s not the right season for horror, and John Carpenter once said it could have been a factor in The Thing tanking, but it also went right up against E.T.
Throughout the genre’s history, reinvention would come along when things were getting stale, which we’re sadly not getting these days. Universal reinvented their monsters several times, combining them with comedy (Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein), and science-fiction (Creature From the Black Lagoon). Halloween reinvented the genre when it was mostly drive-in schlock, and just when everyone declared horror dead again after the glut of mad slasher flicks, Wes Craven came back with Freddy Krueger and Nightmare on Elm Street.
So where’s today’s Freddy Krueger? Where’s the young horror fans that can turn the genre on their heads with something like the first Scream movie? Where are the young independent filmmakers who really know their craft, and can apply their skills to scaring the hell out of audiences like Carpenter with Halloween?
Where are the new Romeros who can combine horror with social commentary? There’s no more problems left in the world? (Actually, I had forgotten that Drag Me To Hell was about foreclosure).
As Reddick notes, “Every time something original comes out and does really well, we kind of hope and pray the industry will say, ‘There is a huge audience for something original. Let’s make more originals.'”
Very wishful thinking there. Again, what Hollywood responds to is the smell of money, like Insidious making $92 million when it cost $1.5 million.
We’ll probably always have horror films, but if all anyone’s interested in is making a ton of money without spending a nice amount, well, the genre will continue to be lowballed, and the movies, as well as us fans, will suffer.