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.
- If it is predictable it cannot be scary.
- If it uses more computer-generated special effects than Star Wars, it cannot be scary.
- If it requires the monsters to open their mouths too wide, it cannot be scary.
- If I am only scared because of a particular startling scene or revelation, it cannot be scary.
- 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
- Dead of Winter