Why did I just watch and review 31 horror movies? Why do I maintain this tradition every year? Why explore horror?
Let’s take that last question first… horror is the strangest of all movie genres. What other genre is as varied and all encompassing as horror? Look at this month of movies, The Conjuring, a ghost story, The Fly a body horror story, Dawn of the Dead, zombies, The Final Girls, a horror satire, all sit within the same genre. No other genre can create such an array of movies. Saw and Get Out are both horror films. One is a unique take on race relations in America. One is about two guys cutting their own legs off. Both are horror. I’ve done months of other genres. A month of westerns. A month of musicals. But these genres tend to be too similar, too homogeneous. Horror can encompass so much. It’s also the only genre that really has never disappeared. Westerns and musicals come and go. Superheroes are popular now, but will one day subside. Horror has been around since the beginning of film and always will be.
Horror opens up so many doors to expressing and exploring ideas. This past month zombies helped take on American consumerism. Ghosts explored abuse, guilt, and alcoholism. Monsters and mutations explored the limits of science and what happens when those limits are breached. William Friedkin said about his film The Exorcist, that it wasn’t a horror movie. It was a story about faith, and the best way to tell that story was through the language of horror movies. Horror can and is often used as window dressing to get the audience to open up to new ideas and different perspectives. People will come for the thrill, but they might leave with something more.
I do this every year for the fun of it, but also because immersing myself in this genre allows me to read the films more deeply. I become a more critical and active viewer by the end of the month. Shutting off the brain and letting a movie wash over me is pure joy, but reading a film more actively creates a deeper experience. Looking at how a shot is framed and examining how it affects me in the moment creates a stronger understanding of how images can affect people and myself. For anyone interested in understanding films or making films this practice is invaluable.
Why did I write all these reviews? Horror cinema is not taken too seriously. Major critics might look at horror, but serious film scholars usually brush it off except for the big ones, The Exorcist, and Rosemarys Baby. It’s terrible that a genre this prevalent and with this much potential should be ignored. I wanted to add my voice and offer a little bit more criticism to a really incredible genre.
I will continue with this tradition. This year turned out to be incredibly busy, but it was still worth it. The thrill was still there even when I was exhausted and ready to quit. Enjoying a movie alone or with friends it proved to once again be a fun month of movies culminating in a great Halloween.