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New Old Horror: An Introspective Look Into How Old Horror Tropes Are Revitalizing The Current Horror Genre

Since the introduction of the horror genre, our love for being terrified has only grown. What is it about being frightened to death that makes us feel alive? Is the rush of being able to view others in horrifying situations from the safety of our homes a voyeuristic thrill? Oh, you better believe it.

The trouble is, what happens when the familiar tropes stop scaring us and the over saturation of horror films reaches critical mass and we can no longer reach the same euphoric terror we once had? Unfortunately, the same ideas from the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s have been rehashed and repackaged so many times over to the point where the things that should scare us couldn’t even frighten a small child.

Hollywood’s peddling of mediocre films has flooded the genre into a frail, shambling corpse of its former glory. The lumbering serial killer pursuing its victims at a pace never exceeding that of a brisk walk, the family wronged by a group of depraved lunatics to the point where the only justice is bloody vengeance, a small group surviving the never-ending onslaught against an insurmountable force, and the supernatural/demonic force that wants to inhabit our heroes has been driven into the ground so deep that you’d think Jason Vorhees had his undead boot pressing on the back of its skull.

However, there are some directors that exist today that are able to take the old, outdated tropes from these bygone eras and bring them up to date in refreshingly gruesome ways. Directors like Robert Eggers, Leigh Whannel, Jennifer Kent, David Robert Mitchell, Panos Cosmatos, and Jeremy Saulnier have all contributed to the revitalization of modern horror by taking what made the previous generation’s horror movies that we loved great and updated them to fit into our current world.

Taking an introspective look into new films, what they’ve adapted from earlier cinema, and how they’ve redefined tropes to make them stand among the best of what modern horror has to offer.

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    The balance between being a traditionalist or a revolutionary in La La Land

    Analyze the struggle that Sebastian faced seeing as he wanted to hold onto jazz and its traditional ties while also aspiring to be a revolutionary. How was he able to accomplish both by the end of the movie?

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      Never Have I Ever-- cultural diversity and/or cultural stereotypes?

      Never Have I Ever is strikingly different from other young adult TV shows because of its highly diverse cast. The main character, Devi, is an Indian-American seeking to navigate high school life with her two best friends, who are also women of colour. Although this show features complex characters that come from many different cultures, the show relies on cultural-stereotypes in a way that can be uncomfortable at times. For example, Devi’s "nemesis" named Ben is Jewish and is portrayed in a very cliche way — he highly values money and has a workaholic lawyer father involved in the entertainment industry. I think it is worth exploring the ways in which different cultures can be represented in TV without perpetuating stereotypes. Is it possible to create characters that identify strongly with their cultures, and yet do not conform to stereotypes?

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        Sound and Silence in Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation

        Sound (or lack thereof) plays an important role in Lost in Translation. From the opening moments with Bob Harris (Bill Murray) filming a commercial in Japanese to the jazz singer in the bar to the culmination of the film with the muted exchange between Bob Harris and Charlotte (Scarlett Johhansson). Analyze the various ways in which sound and silence function in the film.

        • This would likely require at least 5 scene-by-scene analysis to prove significance. You could also check screenwriting patterns and indicate whether sound and silence specifically navigate through the plot points. – hazalse 6 months ago
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        Captain America: Civil War: A Movie That Fueled Partisan Division and Government Disillusionment?

        When people think of the Marvel Cinematic Universe that has reigned supreme in the box office for more than a decade, they either think of Iron Man or Captain America, and Captain America: Civil War, pins the two leaders over… politics, essentially. Politics on a cosmic scale, but politics nonetheless. Steve Rogers, being the uncompromising freedom fighter that he is, stands against the Sokovia Accords backed by Tony Stark. Both have their reasons, and the situation is never exactly resolved since the movie diverts the plot to Bucky’s escape.

        Back to reality today in the United States, where there are small, yet scattered, protests all across the country over state-issued stay-at-home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been several points of controversy that have sparked the protests: claims that hospitals and institutions are skewing COVID-related death numbers, governments are stripping citizens of their rights and keeping them "detained" in their homes, etc.. Overall, there seems to be a disconnect between some people and institutions such as the World Health Organization, the CDC, the UN, etc.

        Does Captain America: Civil War, embody that conflict? It’s not new at all, but has the film and/or superhero blockbusters in general inspired movements such as these, believing in global government conspiracies that plan for world domination? Does Captain America, specifically, embody/inspire people to not compromise what they feel is right?
        Final note: I decided to focus on the movie rather than the comics because the MCU is an international phenomenon, raking in billions at the box office. As a result, I assume these films have been much more prevalent in the global, cultural "psyche" than the comics.

        • I think that is an interesting way to look at it. It boils down to exactly what you said, "Captain America is a freedom fighter," and that is what is at stake here. Americans freedom to choose where they go and when. Ultimately, it is now up to state governments to handle the issue going forward and it does not seem like Steve Rodgers would approve of their tactics. – sweathers 2 months ago
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        The Genius of Everyday Embarrasments in Emma (2020)

        Analyze the use of unique everyday elements in Emma (2020). The director added unique aspects by adding "butt-warming" by the fire, being dressed by servants, and nosebleeds and inoportune times. These little moments are unique for an Austen film and are a great way to update the story.

        • I think that they add a more human feel to the film. Period pieces sometimes feel a little bit distant, because of the mannerisms that we don't identify with and the elements we have to work harder to understand. This new adaptation of Emma helped the audience see through the perfect facade that period pieces often portray, with the little things that normally go behind the scenes. – aclmohle 2 months ago
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        To War is Human, To Relinquish Unlikely

        The film cache of War World I, World War II, and Vietnam dramatizations are continual fodder for the curious and critic alike. The ancient battles of Europe and Asia have had their turn in front of the camera lens and the recent terrorism and rogue posturing leave no doubt that the theaters will draw revelers back in droves for the foreseeable future. Does the war formula of the past persist in terms of viewer expectation and recent innovation such as night vision? How does the ever changing geopolitical agenda and the socioeconomic appetite influence the confrontational depiction on the silver screen or the plasma screen? Does CGI enhance or devalue the tendency to transcend the dilemma physically, ideological or existentially? Consider the early stop motion techniques of Jason and the Argonauts (skeleton sword attack), War Games (teen hacker), The Hunt for Red October (espionage), or Terminator 2 (apocalyptic dream) for analysis of realism and suspension of disbelief in new battle fronts. Are psychological warfare or cyber-attacks in virtual space the future of wars, drone missions and stealth raids a nascent ploy, or is there still a place for the dog fights and tank ambushes of early combat?

          Taken by Daniel Ibarra (PM) 2 months ago.
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          How long was Phil Connors Trapped in the Time Loop? (Groundhog's Day)

          In the 1993 film Groundhog’s Day, Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors became trapped in an ever-repeating time loop, reliving the same events of a single day in a small Pennsylvanian town. But how long was Phil actually trapped? How many days, months, and years transpired as he became a villain, suicidal, and ultimately the (problematic) hero and broke free?

          Does waking up next to Rita the next morning completely void their relationship because of his intimate knowledge of her due to his repetitive cycle of cheating his way into her heart? Oh, yeah, and let’s talk about why.

          • I feel that the writer should focus on the psychological aspects and the camus-ian aspects of this film. The spiritual undertones of this film would also be interesting to explore. – Lukasalive 2 months ago
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