Why horror films just arn't scary anymore.
|If one looks at any of the fables of old, one sees that when some one beats Death, they no longer die (to be honest, there was never much closure there but I think we can all assume they’re good for at least a decade or so.), Yet in the undeservedly popular Final Destination series, despite the fact that the characters evade Death, s/he still takes them anyway. This is just one example of what truly makes horror movies scary; people keep making them, and the ignorant masses keep paying good money to see them. The main issues I have with horror movies are threefold: They are predictable, unrealistic, and are nothing compared to horror themed video games, or, indeed even certain moments in games not made to be scary.
Through my thankfully brief exposures to horror movies via my sister, I have almost always been bemused by the fact that, despite the inane, complicated and vague plot setup, they still follow the same formulaic method. I believe I’ve been able to break it down into three different endings, one of which is virtually always used. Number one; the antagonist kills everyone, opening the door for a sequel when they move on to a different country/area (Final Destination). Two; The antagonist kills a bunch of people before s/he is banished to a nether dimension, opening the door for a sequel when some one in the future releases them, usually by activating some mystic artifact (Jason, Freddy Krueger). Or three; The antagonist kill everyone in a group except the last person, who manages to kill the antagonist. This one not only opens the door for a sequel, but directly leads into one, because, in the very last scene, as the last surviving character is being wheeled off to the hospital, s/he (surprise!) sees the antagonist back at it again (Ghost ship (which I actually predicted the big plot twist within the first 5 minutes (and yes, I’m doing an aside within an aside))). This predictability is also shown in the Scary Movie series of parodies. While hardly a credible source for factual information, its mockery of horror movies carries quite a bit of truth. For example, in the beginning of the first movie (arguably the best, but I digress.), a protagonist is being chased in a “Scream” parody. She comes across a table with a gun, a dagger, a knife, a grenade, and a banana sitting upon it. Upon a moment’s deliberation, she grabs the banana and keeps running. Shortly after she comes to two signs labeled “safety” and “death.” Naturally, she runs in the direction of “death”.
While most things I enjoy fall well outside the range of what could be considered realistic, they at least subconsciously acknowledge that it’s unrealistic by the nature of the genre and are able to maintain the suspension of disbelief (for example, I know very well that one thing cannot be changed into another by clapping your hands, but Fullmetal Alchemist is still an awesome show.). Horror movies, on, the other hand, pay no heed to the subtle balance of said suspension, and instead have virtually every character die in a highly unrealistic, Rube-Goldberg-Device manner. But wait! How can I knock horror movies for being unrealistic, if I watch and enjoy movies like The Matrix, or Princess Mononoke? Easily; Those movies are, as I said before qualified as fantasy (or sci fi, whatever.), whose main goal is to inspire shock and awe with fast paced action scenes, and an overall sense of majesty. Essentially, anything but reality. Horror movies are also not reality; however, let’s take a look at the end goal of a horror movie for good measure, shall we? The goal of a horror movie is, simply, to scare you. So, how can something scare you if you know it’s not real? It can’t. In short, you can look at a picture and be inspired, but when was the last time a picture made you flinch?
I have found moments in games which genuinely scared me, despite the abject failure of horror movies in that very same department. For example, in Metroid Prime II, there is a dark world. Upon entering it for the first time, I turned off the lights to sort of get into the mood. When I returned to the light world, I never bothered to turn the lights on again. I began screwing around, and fired a charged shot into a wall while standing under a waterfall of sand. This triggered a kind of easter egg, causing Samus’s (the protagonist) face to be reflected on the screen, which briefly scared me. Also, in the Metal Gear Solid series, the goal is to sneak around and accomplish various objectives without being seen. When an enemy guard spots you, an exclamation point appears above his head, and he makes a sound. After playing that game long enough, just hearing that sound triggers a Pavlovian fight or flight response. These games, mind you, are not supposed to be scary. Games intended to be scary are usually very effective, including games like Indigo Prophecy and Eternal Darkness, the latter of which actually has in-game events that act like actual errors.
In summary, for these and many more reasons, horror movies are crap and should shape up or ship out. Essentially, they are an orgy of violence and sex with absolutely no plotline (well, to be fair, some of them try, but that's all they do.). As such, I implore you to not be drawn in like a common idiot by the promise of titilation and adrenaline, and if you insist on being scared, play MGS or Indigo Prophecy instead.