#NGHW 500-word Horror Blogs, The Runners Up featured on #139
Daphne Strasert and Quentin Norris
# 2 HORROR BINGE by Daphne Strasert
Fear evolved to be a fleeting physical reaction. Fight or flight is only supposed to last long enough to escape danger. Psychologically speaking, humans aren’t built to endure hours of sustained terror. Yet, whether it’s Penny Dreadful or Stranger Things, horror addicts love to curl up with Netflix for a marathon of dread. Watching horror isn’t like it used to be. With the rise of streaming services, the horror genre faces the new challenge of binge-watch culture. What effect does this medium have on scare factor and can it take horror to new heights?
How did we get here?
Before streaming, television horror was constrained by weekly time slots. Creators had to contend with an unreliable audience, so they structured series for casual viewing. Shows adopted a “monster of the week” format that worked well even if watched sporadically. However, what worked well for syndication floundered when viewers started consuming a decade’s worth of episodes in a single weekend. Faced with a fundamental shift in how audiences watch television, producers adapted their approach. Netflix pioneered the world of “binge content” by releasing shows in season-long chunks and optimizing them for marathon viewing.
A new approach to story telling
With longer run times and no commercial breaks, binge content plays by different rules. For better or worse, creators have changed how they make shows to keep you clicking “Watch Next”.
- No Filler
Binge shows don’t waste time on scenarios (or infuriating Christmas episodes) that won’t be mentioned again. Every installment stays on track and, with no fluff to waste time, the storyline moves forward at breakneck speed. Episodes bleed together without having to rehash plot points. Twists and turns pile on each other with never-ending suspense and mystery. Stranger Things is a perfect example—more like a seven-hour movie than a television show. The long format gives the creators room to develop a complex story.
- Stifled Experimentation
Tight plots and fast pacing can have drawbacks. Sometimes an amazing concept doesn’t stand up to a full season of scrutiny. These ideas benefit from single episode exploration. Buffy mastered this with one-off monsters like The Gentlemen.
- No anticipation
A tortuous wait between episodes isn’t always a bad thing. A horror show that updates every week stews for seven days, allowing imagination to fill in horrifying implications while the show isn’t playing. American Horror Story capitalizes on this by leaving key doors open at the end of episodes to bring viewers back each week.
As viewers increasingly turn to streaming services rather than cable subscriptions, we can expect binge content to grow and adapt. We are already seeing the medium evolve. Stephen King and J.J. Abrams are teaming up to bring us Castle Rock. It isn’t out yet, but internet whispers say that it could bring us an anthology show that breaks the mega-movie mold. So, look forward to new terrors as horror masterminds push the envelope of an already edgy genre.
- #3 FIVE FILMMAKERS CHANGING THE FACE OF HORROR CINEMAby Quentin Norris
It’s no secret that horror is one of the most easily dismissed genres in any medium, especially in film. It’s hard to blame the critics. There are always exceptions, but the early 2000s were too bogged down with tepid remakes of ’80s gems to make any true impressions on cinephiles. Horror’s reputation has been changing thanks to exciting visions from the following filmmakers who are breathing new life into the genre:
Alice Lowe: Alice Lowe took no prisoners with her feature film debut, Prevenge, a twisted tale of a mother-to-be who is slave to the will of her sociopathic unborn child. Lowe starred in the film while seven months pregnant and used her own fears as inspiration. Lowe conjures up the most delightfully wicked scares mixed with pitch black humor with the most limited of resources, and the results are nothing less than entertaining.
Jordan Peele: Although the well-noted sketch comedian had been discussing his desire to make a horror film for some time, no one quite knew what to expect from Get Out, but what we got was a groundbreaking wake up call for America, and could not have come at a better time. The filmmaking is inspired by past films — particularly the dread of Rosemary’s Baby — but the subject matter is extremely modern, exploring the inherent terror of being a person of color in modern society. Like many great horror films before it, Get Out uses socio-political themes to reflect something deeper inside everyone.
Oz Perkins: As the son of Anthony Perkins, the original Norman Bates, horror runs through Oz Perkins’ blood, although he’s had a bit of a rocky start. His first film, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, is only now being released, while his second, I Am The Pretty Thing That Lives In The House, was quietly released on Netflix late last year. Pretty Thing may have been released to little fanfare, but it is a striking film that is well worth a watch. Feeling like a cross between Terrence Malick and David Lynch, the film creates a gothic ghost story like no other before it.
Robert Eggers: Scaring Stephen King is no easy feat, but that is exactly what Eggers did with his excellent feature debut, The Witch, a creeping tale of a doomed New England family haunted by a demonic presence that feels like a knife slowly digging under your skin for an hour and thirty minutes.
Julia Ducournau: This French-Canadian filmmaker’s feature debut, Raw, gained a reputation as a gross-out film after audiences fainted at a film festival screening. While there’s no shortage of gooey body horror to be found in the film, it is much more than just that. The film is a layered, emotional coming-of-age film with enough body horror to make David Cronenberg beam with pride.
And that’s just to name a few. There are many more independent genre filmmakers and many more to come who just can’t wait for the opportunity to collectively scare us all in the dark.
Listen to the contestants battle for points this season on HorrorAddicts.net