We all have opinions, we may all have a little different something that makes us tick. But what makes us "tick" when it comes to the horror movie genre? What are elements you look for in a horror film?
For example, I am always waiting for that creepy moment, that moment where you think you know what's going to happen, but you're not entirely sure and you watch the screen with fingers slightly skewing your view, silently screaming to yourself and you start stress eating whatever snack is in front of you...I LIVE FOR THAT SHIT! For me It's usually some sort of jarring movements, like The Exorcist-crab walk down the stairs, or something gross and gory (ex. Excision, Martyrs) If you can make me stress eat popcorn and watch a scene from a half covered face, you're doing something right.
What else makes a horror movie good? Music, 100% - I have watched movies that honestly, aren't that great! whether they are lacking somewhere in the writing department, or the actors aren't all that convincing, whatever it may be, put a spooky audio track of some ancient fuckin cult like singing (ex. Midsommar, Amulet) and I'm done for, I get chills, I feel uncomfortable, it's off putting and I LOVE IT!
A sensible interesting plot and likeable characters- If you're going to have unlikeable character(s), for the love of all that is horror, kill them off in a ridiculously satisfactory way for the viewers, do something utterly ridiculous. As cliché as it is- toss them into a woodchipper, cut off their head with some gardening sheers- WHATEVER- just make it gory and make it convincing or make them redeem their shitty actions in some way, so that they end up being likeable or you end up with this feeling of - "Hey! Good for them!" by the end. But killing off characters shouldn't be the main theme of the movie, unless you're the SAW franchise and that's what you're "thing" is (not my bag of tea tbh- it's redundant and basically murder porn) There is nothing super scary about a just straight up murder movie, it's just gross usually. I want to feel a rollercoaster of emotions when I watch horror. I want some comedy, I want dramatic moments, suspense, but most of all I just want a good story and a rapidly increasing heart rate.
Cinematography- lighting, mood, tone. It's SO important. Some good examples of great cinematography in horror- Midsommar, Hereditary, The VVitch, Get Out, The Ritual, Scare Me- I'm not going to bore you with details and go much further into why (I'll dive deeper into that in our recorded episodes) If it's beautifully shot it definitely adds to the experience.
Make it unique and different! Listen, we've seen the religious/demon/exorcism movies....A LOT. If you're going to do it, make it unique in some way or move on! Because the horror genre has been around for so long and us die hard fans have seen so many of these films too many times to count. Change it up, add a twist, surprise me! Housebound was a great example of this. The recently released Mortuary Collection was fun, different and had a great twist in it (no spoilers don't worry) also Susperia, what a uniquely strange film and also a great example of good cinematography.
Good effects, not essential to a horror movie, but definitely doesn't hurt! I prefer Practical Effects vs Computer Generated for the most part, but it really depends on the film. I feel like there's nothing better than some good gory old school practical effects, like stuff you see in the movie Slither or an overly gory episode of Ash Vs Evil Dead (click for a behind the scenes look at practical effects- may contain Spoilers). There are some gems out there with 0 special effects like Prevenge. We'll dig deeper into the Practical Effects vs CGI in another post.
So what makes a horror movie good to you? Music, Sensible plot, likeable characters (or unlikeable with a good payoff?) Cinematography, Unique Storytelling and a little bit of gore? Comment below and thanks for coming to my TED talk!