Sunday Discussion: The Decline of the Horror Genre?
by Alex Billington
April 6, 2008
It's getting kind of hard to write these discussions. All I can think about is the summer. It's only four weeks away and there's nothing but mediocre crap (give or take Smart People and Forgetting Sarah Marshall) for the next few weeks. However, I thought today would be a good time to discuss the horror genre. I just watched The Ruins a few nights ago and was merely satisfied - that's the most I can say. I'd never watch it again, I won't buy the DVD (and I usually buy everything), and I won't be putting it on any best of lists. Is this the beginning of the decline of the horror genre?
The world of "torture porn" and everything horror has been under attack for a few years now, at least since Saw originally hit theaters in 2004. However, it really struck me this year when I started thinking about the summer (because I can't get it out of my head). I remember publishing an article last year called the Top 5 2007 Horror Films To Look Out For that mentioned five great horror movies, four of which hit around the summer time frame. I know there weren't an abundance of horror movies last summer anyway, but compared to this summer, there were plenty. In 2008 we've got nothing! Well, wait, we've got The Strangers, but that's it!
Lionsgate used to have Midnight Meat Train scheduled for May, but since moved it. And The X-Files 2 could technically be called horror, but I think it's more of a dramatic thriller than horror. My point is that horror movies seem to be getting more and more sparse. Both The Ruins and Shutter performed pretty poorly at the box office, which is expected for March and April, but it's still proof that horror doesn't perform well. It seems that it's becoming more and more of a small niche - something that only the folks who frequent Bloody Disgusting and Dread Central will end up seeing. And they do, but that doesn't account for much money. These horror movies would be better off playing in small art house theaters than taking up precious screen space at the big cineplex.
I'm actually a bit worried. I used to hate, absolutely hate, horror movies. It wasn't until recently that I began to appreciate them and walk out without being scared shitless. After achieving that kind of bliss, I began to enjoy them, even the fun ones like Saw II and Saw III. Then the crap started to hit, whether it was The Hills Have Eyes or The Grudge or Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning or any number of these pointless overblown horror films (usually remakes). They began to water down the genre and turn off people like me who genuinely wanted to have a good time. Now it seems like the studios are going the other way and dumping anything horror. They're not even giving it a chance anymore.
So my question still remains - is this the decline of the horror genre? Are there any original stories left to tell or are we just going to see remakes from now until forever? Is the lack of horror movies this summer saying something about the studios, or is it saying something about the moviegoers? I know that there will always be a majority of horror haters who will outweigh those that appreciate it, but if you're a fan of horror in the slightest, please speak up! Now is the time to speak your mind about all things horror.