By Jerome Reuter
When it comes to modern horror, a few words come to mind. Found footage, shaky camera movements, recycled ideas, and gentrification, just to name a few. However, there is one term I’ve been neglecting to explore, and have overlooked a few times. It might be possible that we’re witnessing a renaissance, or rebirth of the genre.
My largest peeve, has been the recycled formula we’ve see far to often. The found footage flick. Most of the time, this involves footage passed off as real, interspersed with shaky camera movements, and a surprised film crew. Releases such as The Sacrament, and The Taking Of Deborah Logan have been decent efforts in this area. However, much like trying to find gems while record shopping, you have to wade through a lot of swill to get to the gold. In my honest opinion, found footage should have ended with Cannibal Holocaust. Ever since the release of The Blair Witch Project, the market has been flooded with these uninspired copycats.
If you’re anything like me, I know you’ve been craving something new. Something that isn’t another Saw sequel. I’ll also point this out right now, Saw is not a good franchise.
Which brings me to the subject of a possible rebirth. New ideas in this day and age, are few and far between. So we have to look to the past, to perfect the present. Quite a few films that have been released in recent years, are accomplishing just that. This isn’t a matter of rewriting the rulebook, but ripping it up and starting all over again.
One element thats made a welcome return, is atmosphere. Films such as Calvaire, A Girl Walks Home Alone At NIght, Martyrs and The Babadook build as they progress. Instead of relying on cheap jump scares, they allow the events of the film to guide the viewers attention. These aren’t just good horror films, they’re good films. They follow the primary rule of effective film storytelling: Feel it first, think about it second.
The Babadook, event went so far as to utilize one of Jean Renoir’s old techniques. Breaking away from the main narrative, to connect with your audience. You’ll see this in a lot of modern releases, going back to the old techniques from auteurs of the past. Films such as The Battery, The VVitch, and It Follows have made use of the old camera techniques of Soviet filmmaker Andre Tarkovsky. When making a film, the camera is your most important component, it’s what tells the story.
Although I’ve made this point several times, it’s most relevant in this case. Real horror, is what you don’t see. Finally, after years of CGI laden imagery, many works are going back to this primary rule, with great results. Witnessing a kill i one thing, but it’s another to challenge our minds to figure out what’s actually occurring.
At last, there’s the aspect if keeping the terror confined. This is a method that makes Repulsion, The Haunting, and even Das Boot great films, even today. Theres so much more you can exploit while in a confined space, It doesn’t just have to be a single room, or an apartment house. When using locations for an effective horror film, less is more.
It seems there might be some hope after all. With products that keep getting better, it seems a renaissance is in the process. If I might also add, it’s about damned time.