Editorial: Is Horror Dying?
Following Drag Me to Hell's modest box office take, the folks at The Examiner have posted up an interesting editorial - "7 Reasons Why the Horror Genre is Dying".
It may not be much of an epiphany to all you avid horror fans out there, but it's a well-constructed account of what has been crippling the industry over the last several years.
The article concludes by calling for someone to step up and save horror, but I'd like to offer a counter-point: The saviors are not only here, they've always been around. You just have to recognize them. When it comes to the genre, the first thing people need to do is stop looking at the multi-plexes.
Think about the majority of new and old horror classics: How many of them actually came from a big studio? How many had hefty budgets and instant success? Aside from a few exceptions (Jaws, The Exorcist) most of our beloved fright flicks have been either modest independent or foreign productions. The key to this genre's success has never been found in box office receipts, but the longevity it carries with fans. The financial failures of the 70's and 80's are now today's classics that fuel the "Ain't It Cool" geek generation, inspire new filmmakers, and rake in anniversary edition DVDs every five years.
Great horror is still all around us. But like anything worthwhile, it isn't immediately accessible or recognized. Platinum Dunes may grab the #1 weekend spot with each of their abominable remakes, but will anyone be revisiting them in 10 to 20 years' time? On the flip side, most fans will have to seek out and/or wait (sometimes for years at a time) to be able to catch a glimpse of superb horror titles like Oren Peli's Paranormal Activity (review here), Tom Shankland's The Children (review here), Anthony DiBlasi's Dread, Paul Solet's Grace (review here), and Bruce McDonald's Pontypool (review here). These movies might not grace the cover of Entertainment Weekly, but they're the cogs that will keep turning that great horror machine long after the big gears have rusted.
At the end of the day, the film industry is still a business, and we occasionally need a Twilight to keep the fires burning. But horror as a whole has never changed: Its future is still with the little people; all those independent artists who thrive off passion and an urge to bring original ideas to the screen. There's always plenty of exciting material to be consumed; you just have to get your nose out of the troth and start sniffing the grounds.
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