It’s awards season and, as Horror Addicts, that isn’t much to get excited about.
Film critics usually rank horror somewhere below stale theater popcorn, if they mention it at all. The only horror film to ever win the Academy Award for Best Motion Picture was The Silence of the Lambs (over 25 years ago) and only four horror films made the cut for the American Film Institute’s Top 100 Films (Jaws, Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Sixth Sense). But the genre pulled in upwards of $983 million last year and was responsible 10% of the market share. Clearly, horror resonates with the public psyche and the lack of credit isn’t from lack of interest.
Perhaps horror gets a bad name from pulp monster flicks created to sell children’s toys or from movies that capitalize on sex at the expense of actual fear. Of course, exploitative movies aren’t exclusive to horror, but it seems that whenever a frightening film is acclaimed, critics are quick to characterize it as a different genre—thriller or science fiction, most often.
Are times changing?
Eliciting true terror is just as difficult as drawing tears and there is great insight achieved through examining cultural roots of fear. Get Out was a box office smash this year, indicating that audiences are ready to use horror to look at the world from a new angle. With the public seeking more than slashers that trade shock for substance, film studios—particularly indie producers—seem poised to push the boundaries of the genre further than ever before. Directors are creating defiant films that plumb the depths of human nature. If you haven’t already, go watch Raw, The Bad Batch, or The Shape of Water for a glimpse at the new frontiers producers are exploring.
Guillermo del Toro just won a Golden Globe for his directing in The Shape of Water. Get Out was also nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Picture (as a Comedy, but still… Horror wasn’t a category). Maybe it’s a sign of things to come. We could be looking forward to some nomination nods when the Oscars come around.
Blood and gore movies filled with jump scares will never really go away, (then again, neither will the Transformers franchise). That isn’t bad—those things have their place. But a new generation of movies is emerging, ones that may earn a place among industry greats as the best films of all time.