Today’s modern horror film isn’t how it used to be. We used to have monsters, ghosts, and even animals that had given us all chills. In a way, we do still get those items, but with the exception of the chills. How many people can safely say they have been afraid to watch a movie in the past 10 years? Not many, at least to those who enjoy watching horror films. Movies such as Slender Man, Winchester, and The Nun seem to rely more on gimmicks than a cohesive narration. They also contain very little to no tension, making those movies persistently boring to watch.
In the era of modern horror, we will be looking at why some movies have failed to capture any real sense of dread. We may also draw comparisons or mention those that have done well. For every bad horror film made, it looks as though a good one comes about soon after. What horror movie mistakes are made today? How can those mistakes be cut out? Maybe there are some gems in the brush? Let’s take a look!
The Nun: Missed Opportunity?
For those who have not yet seen The Nun, or otherwise don’t plan to, save your money. Wait for either Redbox or Netflix to get their hands on it. The first few minutes that show the history is great in itself, but later the entire movie gets flooded with tropes you seen before. There are a lot of demons and logic thrown out the window for sake of trying to invoke fear, yet it never works. The main problem with a movie like this is that it attempts to be a historical horror-like film. It’s really weird, because after you get a really good setup, it’s as if the beginning really didn’t matter later on. In a film like this, they just want you along for the ride.
The Nun feels like it was just made to be a movie, not like it was made to particularly frighten or even tell any sort of narrative. There’s no tension or suspense and it relies solely on jump scares. That’s a major problem with some modern horrors as well, they rather focus on cutting corners. Studios rely on popular techniques, not developing their own, with short-sighted gimmicks. What was the gimmick? None other than the Nun herself! Yeah, they just toss everything at you in hopes something lands. It never does. There are some decent moments, but it never pays off. A movie that’s attempting to tell a story as if it was based off something historic should take its time. This whole movie felt rushed.
Winchester: This Is A Movie?!
A modern horror film that takes place around the legend of the Winchester Mystery House. Cheap gimmick? Well… Winchester starts out fine, but later as time goes by it gets real difficult to follow. It feels campy and underwhelming. The jump scares are occasionally scary, but they feel overused. The house is not the true focus, even though we learn the history in the first 5 minutes. It takes place inside the house, yet it’s not even the central object. Films like this could easily be fixed if you know the actual story of the house itself. Rooms that lead to nowhere, created by the wife of the man who invented the Winchester Rifle, and what she went through to how it formed. None of that!
With Winchester, they had not added a lot to the actual house itself. It felt like it was just a house with elements of horror. That’s the only feeling you get with a movie like this. So many other films are guilty of this, especially in the modern age or horror. If they had focused more of the film around the house, it would have made for interesting horror. Instead, we get something that existed. Movies that had done it better were The Amityville Horror films (1979 and 2005). Although both of The Amityville Horror movies were not particularly good films, they focused more around what happened inside the house with the residents. The main focus of those movies were exactly as what people expected. Expectation can can be just as powerful as the film itself.
Slender Man: So Much For a Cheap Gimmick…
Yes, the man himself, Slender Man. A creepypasta that failed spectacularly as a modern horror film. It attempted to play out as a niche fear at best. The worst thing about movies like this are that it relies on cliches and jump scares. It has no real story, backstory on the object itself, or even any focus altogether. There is only a small percentage of people who even found the creepypasta relatively scary. There had also been a video game developed around this campfire story of Slender Man, but it wasn’t very good either. As far as modern horror goes, this is clearly one of the worst to come out in 2018. The man isn’t that scary, and neither is this movie. The movie is also a cliché by itself.
How The Modern Era of Horror Films Is Shaking Up
Modern horror movies are sought to be creepy, and in some cases they pull it off. Movies like A Quiet Place, Revenge, and Hereditary are pretty good. They’re not amazing films, but they do their job and are a nice watch. They’re some of the more welcomed horror movies this year, but they never get to the expectations of other previous films. It looks as if horror has taken more of a backseat nowadays. Sadly, it might be due to our own perceptions of the genre. It used to be monster films, zombies, animals, animal zombies, and so on. As a trend, we can safely say it’s currently psychological horror. It was done before with Identity and Psycho, and can easily be done again.
House (1977) Trailer
With modern horror films, Asian cinema seems to reign supreme. Horrors like House, Audition, and Carved: The Slit Mouthed Woman seem to be far more terrifying. They introduce a good amount of psychological horror with legitimately dark scenes. They don’t rely on the Hollywood magic, but instead rely on how it’s all written. The effects normally aren’t the focal point. With Dark Waters, One Missed Call, The Ring, and The Grudge, it’s obvious that the Japanese cinema industry did it better. Not just the fact that Japan made the movie first, but the fact they made a good horror movie. When it comes down to films like that, it’s always how invested we can get. Horror films attract people due to their fear factor. If only Hollywood would take a hint.