Horror: The Unappreciated Genre

Horror is a genre that is often overlooked.  It seems to be filled with cliche’s that cheapen the experience but also desensitze people from the actual underlying scaredness that drives the films.

Recently I watched “The Mist” – a film adaptation of a Stephen King novel and it suffered a bit from a low budget (you can tell from the poor quality CGI) and while I agree that in most cases, the quality of the CGI gives a film better immersion if you can’t tell that it’s CGI; in this case it’s forgivable because it’s consistent and the things don’t actually look natural anyway.  Stephen King novels and stories are always about the characters anyway, and this film certainly has its characters – one woman takes it upon herself to preach to everyone about how God was punishing them and this was how he was doing it, and eventually gets people to side with her.  The end of the film (no spoilers) I thought was incredible.  Why? Because it doesn’t follow the horror genre cliche about how ever other horror story has ended in all of history.

“Dead Space” the game is another good example of how horror can be done correctly.  I have only played the demo, and have limited knowledge of the full experience, but the demo gives me enough to read reviews  etc. about the game and to understand what it must be like.  Yes, you can play Resident Evil now, and in some regards it’s actually more hillarious to shoot a zombie in the knees and watch him faceplant the floor, but Dead Space is actually one of those pieces of media entertainment that genuinely scares the shit out of you.  

So many horror films just become a laughing stock because they have characters in them that nobody cares about, that we never get to know much about (because of poor character progression), and they always do stupid things in obvious situations.  But when horror is done right, it can produce some of the most powerful drama and story telling that has ever been made. Besides that, the adrenaline boost, that excitement, the amazing feeling you get from experiencing horror, isn’t that why we pay for it anyway?

What annoys me further is the fact that regular series or films or games do horror much better than an actual horror entity. For example, Tomb Raider games almost always have something scary in them, even though the majority of the rest of the games are actually not scary, and more to do with puzzle solving or shooting things. Firefly’s episode with the reavers always scares me.  I always remember the first series of BSG, and being genuinly scared of the cylons. Also Scrooged was pretty scary when they showed you death/ghost of Christmas future. 

Honourable good film mentions: 28 Days/Weeks later, The Blair Witch Project, Silent Hill, The Shining

Bad film mentions: Resident Evils, Saws (except the first), House of the Dead (although is that actually a horror film?)

This blog comes part of the blog-a-week challenge set down by Steve.

~ by shepherdnick on January 11, 2009.

4 Responses to “Horror: The Unappreciated Genre”

  1. What annoys me is when people watch a horror film but make jokes throught the film, this spoils the atmosphere. My big example being when watching Signs Emily and Joe both just kept giggling pointing out sillyness and went so far to (in the window scene) to pause it, go back frame by frame to see what went past the window. Pah! You watch a horror film to be scared! If you are going to try to avoid being scared by making jokes well watch a comedy instead then!

  2. If I’d known you’d tagged yours as Blog-a-Week Competition, I would have too T_T

    I kinda felt the ending to The Mist was a little unneccessary. It felt less like a genuine device to aide the horror and feel of the whole film/story, and more like one used to create horror for the sake of being horrific. I’m not talking about the whole end, just that very last part, btw.

  3. Don’t worry kitty, you still can tag it ^_^.

    I think I know about you mean – you mean the bit after what they let you think is the ending? I kinda guess how that is more horrific than just the horror of the film. I thought it was quite original, the fact that the lasting horrible image of the film wasn’t a monster or a jumping tactic, it was a human response/reaction/thing that happened.

  4. I also forgot to mention how well Half Life 2 isn’t a horror game, but the Ravenholm chapter is simply incredible, from a horror point of view.

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