It’s always interesting to see people’s reaction when you tell them your favorite movies involve blood, gore, and the occasional monster. The horror genre is just incredibly interesting, as it mixes social commentary and entertainment to create a film that has a lasting impression on the viewer. I’m sure everyone has that one film that they watched as a child that gave them nightmares for days and kept them up thinking that unseen creatures hid under their bed.
However, the reason I love horror movies has nothing to do with the fact that they are undeniably intense and creepy, but rather because they are the best type of film to convey issues in society that other genres just ignore. Just think about it, one of the most successful horror films in recent years has been Get Out, the horror title by Director Jordan Peele that explored the lasting legacy of racism in America and how the plight of African-Americans often resembles the classic features of a horror movie. He also followed his huge success with another racially centered, scary film, Us, which analyzes how modern society is built on the backs of oppressed people and this history has been covered up for centuries.
This idea of exploring racism through horror movies can be seen in a number of other films as well. Perhaps most famously, this is seen in Night of the Living Dead, where the black protagonist survives the whole movie only to be shot by armed forces who believe he is one of the ghouls he has worked so hard to avoid. These types of films are most interesting when they show the rest of the world how the horrors of racism are not just confined to the screen you are viewing them on. To me, films that manage to entertain you, as well as educate you are far better than movies that just seek to make a profit.
I also think a lot of people assume that the genre of film that often centers around a helpless woman trapped in the woods is sexist, but there is a huge number of movies that offer a counter to this sexist ideal. The hit Halloween film from 2017, It, had some of the most important scenes showing how a young girl could survive not only the horrifying monster of the series, but also her abusive father who was forcing her to present herself more as a girl. Other films like the Halloween series, Nightmare on Elm Street, and Alien all revolve around the theory of the Final Girl, a theory that when watching these violent films the perspective and hopes of the audience shift from the success of the killer, to the last survivor, who is usually a woman. I’m sure a lot of you have noticed this too, that towards the end the entire theatre is mumbling for the girl to not open the closet door, or shrieking when the villain shows up and it looks like the end for her. This is also very interesting as I think a lot of the success of these female helmed scary movies has to do with the fact that the end scenes are nearly always about female empowerment in the face of the terrifying odds of going up against a powerful killer. These types of movies offer a better representation for women, as they reject the classic victim trope and replace it with that of the survivor.
I never enjoyed these types of movies until my sophomore year of college, when the weekend movie was It and I decided to expand my horizons. It was a great decision. I just hope that more people try to give scary movies a chance and don’t disregard them as mindless and violent. If you look past the gory exterior you might even begin to enjoy them. The first weekend movie is coming up and they are showing Annabelle, so go and see it for yourself, but keep your eyes open.