I sometimes enjoy horror movies, but it’s similar to my “enjoyment” of spicy food. Both make me a bit uncomfortable. Horror movies that rely on psychological terror are much more interesting than horror movies like the Saw series, which rely on gore and “shock” effects to “scare” you. Often, movies like that aren’t even scary at all; they’re just plain stupid. When I was watching Saw IV I was tempted to either burst out laughing at how ludicrous it all was or get up and leave because I couldn’t take all the gore. I did not enjoy that movie at all.
Rob Zombie’s 2007 remake of Halloween was a pretty neat horror film, mostly because it was interesting to think about how a child (Michael Myers) can get so screwed up and turn into a vicious killer. The movie did have blood, gore, and nudity, but it was far better than Saw IV in that it was vaguely plausible.
There are a multitude of other horror movies that also feature a “creepy” child – The Omen, The Changeling, The Poltergeist, The Exorcist, The Last Exorcism, Let the Right One In, The Ring, Insidious, and many more. This technique is so common that it’s practically become a cliche.
But what really irks me about horror movies (besides the “creepy” child factor and the amount of blood, gore, and nudity in a lot of them) is that they rely on moments that make you jump to scare you. The scary aspect of a movie should have more to do with the characters, setting, lighting, and psychological motivations and backstory than the amount of blood or “shock” moments that make you jump. Some horror movies pull this off really well – The Silence of the Lambs was one of those, although I’d argue that it’s more of a thriller than a horror film.
Older horror movies like Night of the Living Dead and a few of the Hammer films (The Curse of Frankenstein and Taste the Blood of Dracula) are good because they don’t rely on “shock” moments as much. They’ve got blood and gore, but it’s definitely not as much as what’s portrayed onscreen today. The only reason these movies don’t seem as frightening is because they’re about zombies, monsters, and vampires that don’t exist. Night of the Living Dead seems almost comical when you watch it, then compare it to horror movies that come out today.
Do you enjoy horror movies? What makes a good horror movie?