Over the past few years, we have seen what some may consider a “golden age of horror,” in which many films in the horror genre are receiving raving reviews from critics and audiences once again after years of drought. Movies like the new IT (2017), Halloween (2018), Hereditary, and A Quiet Place have been released within the past several months to glowing critical praise and relatively successful box office performances. So, the question stands: is this a return to form for the horror genre?
Horror movies have had a long history of shocking the audience. Earlier examples like Dracula (1958) and Frankenstein (1931) shaped the genre itself. After this classical period, the 1970’s and 1980’s saw a resurgence for the horror film industry, as movies like Carrie (1976) and The Shining (1980) released to widely positive responses from audiences, with praise ranging from their high-quality film-making to just plain fear factor.
However, while there were a few great ones, most horror films after this era have repeatedly done poorly in the box office, as well as with audiences and critics. Most of these badly-received films are sequels to original beloved horror films, like the numerous sequels to John Carpenter’s Halloween (from the first one to this year’s, there have been 11 Halloween movies total). The sequels to Scream were a similar story, as later installments weren’t as highly regarded as the original film, sometimes feeling like they’re just trying to cash in on the original’s influential role in the horror movie industry.
However, beginning in the past few months, theaters have noticed a change. This new age of horror films may be due to several factors. For one, horror movies are seeming to put more effort into their filmmaking, taking the time to have quality writing, editing, and acting. They’ve also been smarter with their budgets, accomplishing a lot of astounding visuals with less funding. Another reason is that some of these movies, namely the new IT and the rebooted Halloween, are based off of movies that released a few decades ago to teenagers that might be fully-grown adults that now have teens of their own. This is allowing them to reintroduce both themselves and their children to the series in the best way possible: a big screen with a more modern and higher-budget experience.
Some of the praise these new movies are getting might be coming from the nostalgia of the originals, but it could also be that these movies aren’t just horror movies. Both IT (2017) are coming-of-age films as well as horror films, presenting different themes and having more depth. We’re seeing an increasing amount of horror movies take themselves more seriously as multi-dimensional reboots and original films, instead of settling for being a one-note cash-grab.
It’s always satisfying to see a genre of films return to the limelight in a proud form, and horror movies are no different. I’m very interested to see if these movies continue to excite and surprise us, as it doesn’t seem like this trend will be ending anytime soon, with IT: Chapter 2 releasing next year.
by Jason Grioua