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Blood, guts, demons, or ghosts, the content doesn't seem to matter. People can't enjoy horror films the way we once did. And it's our own fault. Thanks in part to social media, we experience a near-constant stimulation of the reward-center in our brains which could easily be a leading factor... BUT the causes might even be simpler than that. More often than not we're turning to streaming sites and their original shows for our horror fix, but we're still here, still craving shivers. With over-advertising from production companies, overwhelming music, and chaotic realities, humanity at large is unable to enjoy horror these days.
1.) Plot twists are visible from trailers:
The word "Click-baity" comes to mind when we note how movies are presented to us now via the web or commercial. Too much bang, not enough intrigue. We've essentially seen the entire movie in the 30-second clip. Maybe there would be more gasps and shivers in the theaters if production companies would stop insulting the intelligence of the consumers they rely upon for profit. Let's think back to how we were all fed bread crumbs about Jeepers Creepers and Saw. I for one had no idea what I was about to watch. Curiosity bred with proper mystique gave birth to panic while I sat in the dark with a room full of strangers as terror unfolded before my eyes. Sometimes it's what is left unknown that makes a movie great. But more importantly, it's the reliance on good storytelling and word of mouth that breaks those box-office records.
2.) Music overpowers the story.
Any haunting thriller you spend your money to see is polluted with stimulating music. We've all sat through it. Bass tones so deep your seat rattles beneath you, raising the hair on the back of your neck. It's the goal of the filmmaker to trigger your adrenaline response and leave you suspended in discomfort until you're shocked back into the story. But the result is usually just relief anymore since you know something unscary will pop out, like a friend, toy, or bird. (Too many birds, Hollywood.) Then the predictable flash of a ghost in a mirror.
Whatever happened to sudden, shrieking violins when the monster appears while the heroine is distracted by music or chores? Where are the chilling tones which coincide an individual franchise? The attempt to make up for poor storytelling with focus-study driven studio music is a slap in the face to real fans of Horror.
We come for the monsters, not shocking music. So, give us monsters! And leave the overdone bass and squeals for Theatre Musical nerds.
3.) Reality is scarier than fiction these days.
Race/Gender/Class warfare, Corrupt Government, Climate Change, and Plastic Famous People are ruining our ability to be frightened. Escapism is a dying and nearly impossible thing to maintain anymore when with just a tap of our index finger we are worried about our own safety. There's no room for another tale of an innocent "new girl" who makes a wrong turn in redneckville and gets chopped up. Who can get lost in original dystopian suspense when we are living in a ruined futuristic society novel as I type this? Not enough gifted writers are given a shot. Capitalism is killing an art form that ironically enough CELEBRATES murder. The big shots in Hollywood seem to be more focused on synergy than chill-factor, gore, and demonic thrill. We've been desensitized, robbed of empathy, and insulted enough.
And even with all of this evidence in front of us, we know we can still be shocked, sickened, and stupefied. Horror is not a genre, it's a lifestyle.
Please share this if you, like me, want Hollywood to tighten up.
Life sucks. We're all suicidal. Do your job and entertain us.