From killer Captain Kirk to machete wielding hockey goalies, horror movies have flooded theaters “near you” for decades. Their one purpose: to scare.
Many movies exist with premises all across the ouija board, and some have cracked the code of ultimate spook while some have remained in their tracks. This article is a critical love letter to the movie genre, a look at the do’s and don’ts of a good gorefest.
First, let’s look at some basic things every scary film needs to succeed.
In this new age of technology, it’s very simple to compose an electronic piece of eerie, screechy junk. This doesn’t mean that same piece should populate the majority of modern freaky flicks. The soundtrack of a horror movie is incredibly important, and this has been overlooked recently. An orchestral sound is perfect to accompany anything, even a man-eating shark. John Williams’ “Jaws Theme” is, to this day, spine tingling. Music is key to building suspense. It tells the story of the unknown entirely through audio.
Another must is good cinematography. Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining” is gorgeous to watch, even throughout its creepiest moments: the parallel shots of the twins, the slow motion blood gushing from the elevator. It’s spookily beautiful. However, an excess amount of gore takes me to my first don’t.
Cliches are a very difficult thing to avoid, but the fewer a film has, the better it usually is. The black guy dying first, that’s just borderline racism. Bad thing after bad thing happening, it takes away hope– something valuable within every game story. The klutz character needs to die off for good. How many times have viewers needed to watch the same scene of the monster chasing the protagonist and then he or she just falls? Also, we need come up with some new creepy concepts. It feels like the same idea is rehashed over and over again. Orphanages, mental institutions, that little, plank squeaking cabin in the woods are all recurring locations throughout spooky cinema. Where are the spooky bar mitzvahs and nail biting North Pole movies?
As brought up in an earlier review of “IT” (2017), acting can make or break a film. This especially includes child acting. William Friedkin’s “The Exorcist” could’ve never worked with a cheesy child star. It’s Linda Blair’s portrayal of a possessed 12-year-old that makes the movie frightening, so if a 12-year-old can make someone’s blood run cold, there’s no excuse for adults to be delivering such cheesy performances on the big screen.
The twist, the most praised and most hated plot point of every horror movie. M. Night Shyamalan should know this very well, from his critically acclaimed “The Sixth Sense” to his critically panned “Devil.” If one sets out to create his or her own hair-raising motion picture piece, think the whole plot out and connect everything. Randomly bringing a character back to life to finish it is a terrible idea. Create a film where once the audience walks out of the theater they go “Oh! I get it now.”
Jump scares, the cherry on top of a scary Sunday or an overused gimmick that just digs the horrible movie hole deeper into the ground. A jump scare is an abrupt change in a image or event, typically paired with a loud sound. These spontaneous clips are a common occurrence and have been for decades. The unexpected crow flying out of a shattered window, the gnarly demon appearing in a mirror. With them being used constantly in most modern pieces, it begs the question, when do they become oversaturated? The answer: very quickly. One or two are effective, they are fairly easy ways to bring the audience back to the edge of its seats. However, jump scare after jump scare creates a cheap, boring excuse of a movie.
As these films continue to be released, be on the lookout for these positives and negatives. They’ll help viewers pick out the perfect petrifying piece to screen at any Halloween party. With that being said, go watch and critique some, and have a horrifying Halloween.
Colin Shue – Graphics Editor
This is junior Colin Shue’s first year on the ECHO team. His sophomore year he wrote a few stories as a contributing writer. Today, he works as a graphics editor as well as creates and manages his own weekly blog.
Check out contributing writer Isabella Ferrell’s video where she discusses with patrons of the Garden Cafe about the qualities of great horror films.
Coffee shop patrons share opinions about horror movies
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