I hate horror movies. I am not talking about Hitchcockian psychological thrillers, nor am I attacking all horror movies. The Evil Dead was hilarious, and there are definitely some classic horror films that have stood the test of time. All I’m saying is that some of the stuff being made nowadays seems to lack any real content or thought, and focuses only on shocking the audience into feeling fear. Piranha 3DD? Yes, sex sells, so a combination of sex and flesh-eating fish must sell double. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter? Let’s just combine a bunch of popular concepts and hope through some fluke it meshes. Please, Hollywood. Get your head out of your ass.
It’s not because I’m a wimp who can’t handle a supernatural being or two, or because I have trouble understanding the concept that movies are not always based on reality. Hell, even The Blair Witch Project didn’t fool me; I saw right through the fake documentary approach.
No, it’s because I think most movies that fall under the “horror” genre are made specifically to evoke a certain emotion. That makes them the equivalent of chick flicks. Think about it: chick flicks use every trick in the book to make their single and emotionally vulnerable female audience sob and eat their weight in dairy products. Likewise, horror movies seem to use a similar mass-psychology approach to induce fear into their audience. Certainly, knowing that some sort of creature is lurking in a remote abandoned house in a forest, far from civilization gets the heart pounding. Knowing that there’s a handful of really attractive, sexually charged young people in that abandoned house that don’t seem to have any innovative or practical methods for survival makes the situation all the more frustrating for the helpless viewer.
But the fact that you’re feeling fear or anxiety does not mean that the movie did its job, or that it was of high quality. It simply means that it played on the established psychological factors that Hollywood has been exploring for decades. To me, the measure of a good film — or of any work of art, for that matter — is whether or not it can evoke emotion or thought in its viewer through its style, presentation, or content. Neither chick flicks nor this type of horror film does this. They use psychological low blows to hit a nerve with the audience, they try and shock emotion out of them, and they try way too hard to get a specific reaction.
The audience’s reaction should not be the goal; it should be a result of the high quality of the artistic process. Make me think, make me empathize with the characters, make me get into the plot more than just face palming about the characters’ ignorance. Sudden movements may make me scream, but they do not make the movie good. The horror movie industry treats their audience like a cheap date: there’s no real substance, and all efforts are oriented with one goal in mind.