There is something almost divine watching classic slasher flicks from the 1980s on Halloween night, or the psychological horror sets from the 1960s and 1970s. However, horror movies have come down to two cliches: loud noises and the instance of something slightly creepy.
Jump scares have taken over the horror genre and have tightened their stranglehold over these films. The only problem with this is that jump scares don’t scare you. They induce an instinctual reaction from your body called fight or flight.
So, after the fourth or fifth jump scare your body gets use to the sudden terror and begins denying the body’s average adrenaline and cortisol intake to prevent overdose.
Gone are the days where what is not seen is even more terrifying than what is, or the thoughts of a character make him more evil than his acts. To illustrate my point I will compare “Poltergeist” to its remake that came out last year.
“Poltergeist” is a 1982 film where an angry spirit is haunting a family. While the movie wasn’t perfect, it accomplished what it had intended and gave us an entertaining and extremely scary experience. The new iteration of the film, however, pales in comparison to the original and comes down to three things: poor CGI, a plethora of jump scares and mediocre acting (with the exception of Sam Rockwell, I love that little guy).
The original, which doesn’t take place in just one scene but throughout the movie, is one of the greatest building scares ever put on film. Director Tobe Hooper liked to hold his shots on the clown doll, giving viewers the feeling that the clown doll was watching us back.
Later in the movie, Hooper would use the same perspective ,only the clown has made a very subtle position change. This creates doubt if the clown really moved at all, leaving viewers with a false sense of hope since it wasn’t under the bed. Because Hooper shot and edited it, it gave people a more natural scare, rather than relying on instinct.
The same scene in the movie’s latest reiteration takes place in a span of 10 minutes. A kid shines a flashlight, we see a poor CGI clown doll sit down, five minutes later we see more CGI clown dolls surround the boy until the sound track goes quiet as we hold onto darkness, a blood curdling scream cuts the boy’s ever increasing breathing and then suddenly viewers see that little animated doll in all of its hideousness. End scene.
The new one had no tension building, no feelings of anxiety cause by the thought of the clown coming to life compared to the original. It, like most horror movies nowadays, telegraphed what it was going to do and how it was going to scare you. If I could say anything about today’s horror movies, do your research.
Fantastic horror movies such as “The Witch” and “Oculus” are getting overshadowed by such garbage films like “Insidious” and the countless amount of found footage themed films.
Help bring back an art form that was once a very highly regarded genre of film.
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