Opinions of the Hour

Written by Winona Young, Peak Associate

“Why Are We Ashamed to Call ‘Get Out’ and ‘The Shape of Water’ Horror Films?” Jason Zinoman, The New York Times

Journalist for the The New York Times, Jason Zinoman, isn’t afraid to inform the general public that Jordan Peele’s Get Out and Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water definitely count as horror films. In his article, he starts by addressing the resistance people have to the legitimacy of horror as a genre in film.

Zinoman refers to the two films as shining examples of the brilliance horror is capable of offering to film, as well as proof of the diverse nature horror has as a genre. In Zinoman’s eyes, with films like Peele’s and del Toro’s, 2017 was supposed to be the year horror gained legitimacy as a genre, rather than be dismissed as crude and mindless.

He offers many perceptive insights on the success of both films. However, he does fail to acknowledge the shortcomings of ‘modern horror’ itself. Both films stand as exceptional horror films, but they stand as exceptions among the genre. Zinoman does not acknowledge that some critics are correct to judge most recent horror films as horrific (in a bad way), given that modern horror films rely on action, over-the-top gore, and jump-scares in place of genuine unsettling and horrifying truths.

While I stand as an unabashed horror fan alongside Zinoman, his praise for the horror genre remains incomplete. The fact that some horror films are brilliant doesn’t change the fact that many others are not.

With that said, Zinoman does articulate the nuanced and complicated that inhabit horror films as well, citing classics from George Romero to Darren Aronofsky. What Zinoman could have argued further is the observant nature of horror films as a whole; they continually reflect the fear and anxiety that lie within the world’s bellies in accordance to their era, and that is why they can hold their stake as a respected genre.

Overall, Zinoman provides a keen analysis on horror’s deserved seat to other well-respected movie genres, with films like Get Out and The Shape of Water to pave such a way.