Thursday, February 18, 2010

Scary Movies... Not

I am tired of being asked to watch "scary" movies that are not really scary. If you have ever thought seriously about the horror genre, you probably already know what I mean. There is a whole movie type, the teen slasher film, that is not in the least bit scary. It is almost funny to think about what passes as horror.

Consider the following elements to the formula that is thought to be scary or suspenseful these days.
  • Attractive teenage girls in underwear, pajamas, nightgowns, lingerie or swim suits.
  • A psychopathic killer in a mask that everyone thinks is dead, in a mental institution or jail.
  • A scene in which the killer is chasing the teenage girl. She is running and screaming. He is walking slowly with a limp. He catches her anyway.
  • There are always several scenes in which a door is opened to reveal something terrible. It could be a dead body, the killer or something innocent. But the intention is to make you jump and scream.
  • The music is always in the background and barely noticeable until the moment just before the murderer strikes, or the aforementioned door is opened.
There is another sub-genre that is making headway in the teenage horror movie market. The super-natural thriller is just as predictable, and no more scary. These films deal with ghosts, re-incarnation, spirits and the like. They always include some character with a lower jaw that is distended in an Edvard Munch-type scream pose. These films are generally not scary either.

Here are my rules.
  1. If it is predictable it cannot be scary.
  2. If it uses more computer-generated special effects than Star Wars, it cannot be scary.
  3. If it requires the monsters to open their mouths too wide, it cannot be scary.
  4. If I am only scared because of a particular startling scene or revelation, it cannot be scary.
  5. If the marketing campaign is focused on 17 year old boys, it cannot be scary.
I may be a movie snob, but I know what is not scary.

If you are looking for something truly scary, try:
  • Hard Candy
  • The Silence of the Lambs
  • Platoon
  • Dead of Winter
  • Psycho

No comments: