What makes horror Horror?

There’s a large volume of stuff out there that makes up the horror genre. But for all its variety, it just feels like there’s a lot of the same thing. With the recent and upcoming horror movies of "The Boy" and "The Forest" (featuring famous actresses from "The Walking Dead" and "Game of Thrones", respectively), one has to wonder whether anything new is being done here. Tried-and-true tropes seem to be the basis for these movies, and one might wonder as to the prevalence of these tropes throughout a whole slew of horror movies from the past decade.

When you say "horror movie", most people probably think of dolls, knives, clowns, gore, axe murderers, and–most prominently–‘jump scares’. These are all well-recognized symbols and elements of the genre. As far as a topic goes, I think it would be interesting to talk about what really separates horror movies from each other. Not necessarily just in general–a large part of discussion might be what in particular separates ‘good’ horror movies from ‘bad’ horror movies. In the end, what makes a movie uniquely scary?

  • How interesting! The only trouble with this topic is that the writer will have to be very careful to remain objective about "good" and "bad" horror films. – sophiacatherine 8 years ago
  • Yes! Totally agree with the above. Good/Bad can be viewed through feedback from critics, commercial success, reviews, cinematography, storyline quality, as long as it remains consistent throughout the article. – MichelleAjodah 8 years ago
  • I would think horror is best when it disturbs you, mystifies you, and makes you think: makes you second guess yourself. If horror can affect you for days afterwards, then it's done its job. The simpler horror stories are the ones which are gross, or just bizarre and gothic, but not strictly creepy or disturbing on a psychological level. There are also slasher films where people are murdered throughout the movie, but only the original "Halloween," "Friday the 13th" (the first one), and "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (and a few others) have actually made the concept scary and freaky: whereas most of the rest just follow the killer as the protagonist, and the kills are far more creative and a means for dark humorous laughter more than they are for genuine terror and screams. Horror can also have different gradations of "scarriness," especially when it comes to children's horror and adult horror. Although the difference between "The Twilight Zone" and "The Outer Limits" vs "Goosebumps" and "Are You Afraid of the Dark" is pretty minimal, except in how well they are written and how good their twists are. You also can have gross out horror with psychologically disturbing horror, such as the first two "Hellraiser" films, "The Thing," and "From Beyond." But we haven't had many really weird sci-fi horror films like that since the 1980s. I honestly wish we could bring some of that side of horror back. – Jonathan Leiter 8 years ago

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