I have often wondered why we willingly endure being terrified senseless by films with frankly guessable plotlines and characters with no depth or relatable personality; children that frighten us senseless, who in any other genre would be considered cute and vulnerable and mass-murderers who go about chain sawing innocent victim’s heads off in their spare time. Why do we succumb to watching these torturous films and then complain about how scared we are throughout?
The mass-profiting industry of horror is thriving now more so than ever. The genre has developed arguably more than any other over the last century, and now thanks to modernised technology and graphics, we have seen some of the most thrilling horrors of our time. Long gone are the days of old folk tales and campfire stories about werewolves and monsters. Our generation would probably watch a Hitchcock horror such as ‘Psycho’ or ‘The Birds’, both of which were ground-breaking at the time of their release, and laugh at the poor special effects and comically villainous antihero.
Nowadays, the public seem to respond to realism and an apprehension that these horrors could be a true story. People just aren’t frightened of Frankenstein anymore, so cue the new wave of psychologically disturbed, possessed baddies. We are frightened of the unknown, so horror companies focus on haunted creatures in the shadows. Rarely do we see the villain anymore, as the baddies usually either possess a person and talk through the body, or conspicuously stay behind the cameras lens to create tension and mystery.
One of the most terrifying Horrors I have ever (unwillingly) watched is ‘The Blair Witch Project’ which effectively uses the hand-held camera technique to create a mysterious presence of the witch who the audience never actually view. We do however witness the deterioration of the characters mental state and hear curdling screams as the film unfolds. Although the storyline is not complex, (three people go into the woods to film a documentary and get lost) it still petrifies us not knowing who or what is in the woods with the trio, and we still find ourselves shouting at the television screen “DON’T GO INTO THE OLD ABANDONED HOUSE, YOU IDIOTS!…” I think the cinematography technique of the first person camera view is also effective as it puts the audience in the shoes of the character holding the camera, forcing them to empathise with him or her making the scariness of the unknown witch even more real as it is hunting us rather than just some characters in a film.
Another new convention of the ever developing horror genre is gore. Back when films were censored of all violence and blood the horror films never really portrayed reality as you never caught a glimpse of the actual mutilated body. We wonder why children of our generation are reaching their lack of innocence at such an early age; however the things they are exposed to in horror films are quite chilling and certainly would never have been shown to our grandparents when they were 12 years old. Psychopathic Horrors such as ‘Saw’ go into immense detail showing the characters gauging out their eye with a spoon, or making them watch their friends die violently in front of them.
Conclusively, I think it is truly disturbing what we are exposed to these days, however even more alarming is the lengths that film producers must go to in order to affect our emotions and make us scared. Horrors are viewed for the thrill, but why must we endure such torturous methods to experience this kick? How far will the Horror industry take us before films such as ‘Saw’ and ‘The Blair Witch Project’ are no longer terrifying to us, and how much more can this unsettling genre evolve?