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Are Horror Movies Dying?

With the rise of technology over the last decade, horror movies and the horror genre have drastically changed. Is this because of lazy writing and producing that relies on cheap jump scares or is it because modern technology has ruined the terror of isolation?

One reason why horror movies worked so well in the past is because the technology we have today did not exist. You couldn’t just whip out your smartphone and go on Google Maps. If you forgot your wallet you had no money, period. You couldn’t pull out your phone and paywave instantly. The characters had no one and nothing to rely on except themselves.

So what are your thoughts? Watch any past horror movie and pretend it’s set in 2018 and I can guarantee you the movie would be over within the first half an hour.

  • The fact that advanced technology exists does make an interesting point, but maybe what also could be explored is the shift in storytelling. What are the differences between the characters and topics included in past and present horror films? Do modern horror films rely on too many clichés, or not enough? – Gabby 4 months ago
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  • Horror movies have definitely changed with the rise of digital tech, but I would argue that they're nearly as prominent in the mainstream as they were during the 80's horror boom in terms of sheer output. There are even horror movies that make explicit use of the internet as a catalyst for horror, like Unfriended (2014), Megan is Missing (2011), and The Den (2013). This isn't to say that those are good movies necessarily, but they still manipulate the technological advances of the day the same way Scream (1996) and One Missed Call (2008) used early cell phones, and The Ring (1998) used VHS tapes. There are also recent, successful horror films that still make use of the terrifying sense of isolation that cell phones eliminate, like Get Out (2017), Split (2016), and The Babadook (2014). Smart phones and the internet can be obstacles in terms of building tension, but they can also be assets. We live in a world where abduction, trauma, and even allegedly supernatural occurrences still befall people regardless of their access to mapquest or emergency services. We still have weak points; it's the horror writer's job to find and exploit them in fiction. – TheCropsey 4 months ago
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  • This is an expansion on what Gabby and TheCropsey stated already. I'd agree that there is an increase in cheap/lazy horror movies but I don't think they are necessarily dying. In fact, I think they are on the rise again. With films like Get Out (2017) and A Quiet Place (2018). There are plenty of other films, but these are two strong examples of well-crafted horror films in the new age. I think it is important to consider the reasons why there are more horror films succeeding recently. Technology inhibits telling horror stories the same way as the past, but that doesn't mean they can't adapt. Some films even play on this. But other films like the two I listed earlier, along with It Follows (2014) and others, can work even in the confines of technology. The shift in storytelling is important, since some horror films can still work even if based in a different time period like The Witch (2016). There are a number of factors to consider, and this topic can easily work, I think it just has to cover how horror has shifted storytelling tropes and ideas for a 21st century audience. – Connor 4 months ago
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  • I don't think horror movies are dying. Rather, they're being reinvented for audiences familiar with the genre. We've become quite used to typical elements of horror (e.g. supernatural creatures, out-of-shot shadows) that we've vicariously speculated on how to defeat them. While technology can limit that sense of isolation, there are other ways it can pronounce terror. Reliance on technology can ratchet up a false sense of security before it all goes the hell. I agree with what's been said already; horror is in the storytelling. It's up to the writer to decide if they want to write a horror movie that only checks the boxes, or one that goes beyond that, and craps on our hastily built failsafes. – Starfire 4 months ago
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  • I do agree. Horror movies aren’t the same and they either aren’t scary or they are remakes of originals. – 2klonewolf 2 months ago
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  • Technology itself can actually provide a sense of horror that was not present in previous decades. I think of Black Mirror's emphasis on isolation, misplacement of identity, dehumanization, and other horrific symptoms of advancing technology. Definitely lots to work with if you're willing to evolve with the times. – Heather Lambert 2 months ago
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  • It might be interesting to consider the pros and cons of technology and cgi in horror movies. Yes it can be overdone and over saturated depending on the type of horror movie but special effects have improved drastically over the years and now some costumes and special effects are what make the movie. If you look at the original Friday the 13th with Kevin Bacon's horrible fake neck for his scene I for one am thankful technology has improved since then. – Emily Murphy 2 months ago
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