The Departure of the Horror Formula

Jacob Garcia, Staff Writer

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The horror genre has been around for a millennium. It serves its sole purpose to instill fear into its audience, whether it’s adapted into a book, picture, movie, etc. For a while now, the horror genre has been going through significant changes in the movie industry. Many could perceive it as an interesting change among its initial upbringing back in the 80s-90s; however, others find that does not do the movies justice. Modern horror movies have this certain maintained aspect that conforms to a formula that has been utilized repetitively. It has its audience questioning if the horror genre is being completely butchered from what it once was to a new inconsistent take on what we presume horror to be defined as today. Something that is ruining horror films today is not the film itself, but the audience forgetting what horror technically is.

There are many juxtapositions when it comes to horror movies in the late 80s-90s and modern times. Their primary emphasis was on enrapturing the audience with the inevitable. This effective use of tension is what kept audiences on their feet, following the direction that most horror movies had when it came to creativity and imagination is a prime element to the sole structure of the pyramid. This is what made them so intriguing back in the past, and this remains true in the present. However, it appears that this new generation of horror is more stable and predictable when it comes to the direction that the film is taking.

Even though I myself was born when the tone faced a drastic shift, I have witnessed the overwhelming discussion behind horror movies back in the 80s-90s. These discussions mainly focus on what it took for a horror film to be appealing to the audience, as well as the ideologies behind modern horror movies today. The main argument I considering is how modern horror movies have been rather uninspiring with a lack of creative outlook. They tend to just scare the audience with cheap jump scares or loud obnoxious sounds that are supposed to be genuinely “terrifying”. As for the past, the direction it took was much more interesting, with focus on the antagonist, the environment it pits the major characters in, and how exactly the characters could work together to prevail. 

An example of a modern horror movie of the present day that utilizes such tactics is “The Conjuring”. I understand that the movie has received positive reviews from critics for being well-crafted and having a creepy atmosphere that had well-executed designs that genuinely gave off an eerie remedy to the audience that made them grasp on to their seat. However, what is inexcusable is the repetition of faking out the audience with jump scares that are supposed to be “scary”. In reality, it becomes a chore. Not only that, but there is also the cliche plot of “having a family invest their money into an isolated abandoned house that has them completely bewildered or the fact that the house is evidently haunted, but portrays them to be very ignorant towards their own situation they are in”. Horror abuses the main central antagonist of the story, with it typically being a generic demon, poltergeist, or a haunted entity that serves to be the basis of “fear” in the whole duration of the movie. It becomes bluntly predictable and makes us lose interest because it’s something that we already have seen before. I’ll admit that modern horror movies do have occasional elements with inspiring and innovative ideas that could possess great potential to be something more than the average norm. Most franchises today that are categorized as belonging in the horror genre make movies presumed to be scary just to appease the audience. This is a simple cash grab that becomes incoherent and a waste of our time.

One movie in particular that will always pull my attention back to horror to remind a millennial like me what horror once was is “The Shining.” “The Shining” is one of the most infamous and critically acclaimed psychological horror novels that was adapted into a film. It conveys horror in the haunting beauty with visual imagery that is showcased throughout the movie, including the relentless tension that is subsequently building up to keep you galvanized in your seat. It is a feast for the mind and “The Shining” is as psychological as horror gets, toying relentlessly and expertly with your emotions and expectations. An introduction to the protagonist, who is forced into a consequential situation that not only genuinely terrifies the character through the use of elements it possesses that makes it realistic, also terrifies the audience to understand that horror has no limits when it comes to the creative mind that one possesses.

In retrospect, the horror genre is something that is terrifying for us to think of because, at first glance, we get the sudden surge of anxiety. The adrenaline that rushes through us has us knowing that we are expecting the worst outcome and horror has got into our head.

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About the Writer
Jacob Garcia, Staff Writer

Jacob Garcia (12) is in his first year writing for The Shark Attack. Jacob aspires to major in creative and dramatic writing to pursue a career in writing in the television industry. Hobbies consist of watching movies and writing in his free time.

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “The Departure of the Horror Formula”

  1. Kylie Cortez on October 10th, 2018 10:18 pm

    Reading your article really opened my eyes to how horror movies are really degrading the technology they have to make something great. Instead of being original, there is a lot of repetition which can personally make scary movies boring with a few tense moments. We need something new.

  2. Maria Villalpando on October 20th, 2018 10:13 pm

    I agree with your article because even though they continue to make horror films they are not as scary as i would be hoping for. Movies like the conjuring are what disappoint me because the reviews said it was a well done horror film but in reality it was jump scares. I love old movies like the nightmare on elm street and Friday the thirteenth because for their times they were genuinely scary.

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The Departure of the Horror Formula