It seems of late that I have become rather bored of the same ,stale tripe that gets churned out for what passes as modern horror these days. After recently posting a tweet regarding the state of modern horror, I asked myself; when was the last time I watched a genuinely good horror film that really stirred my soul?
The answer took a lot longer then I thought, as it seems all modern horror is just the same repetitive thing over and over again. There have been films such as [REC.] and its sequel which have given me an enjoyable thrill ride through both of its tightly constructed running times. While others that I have found enjoyable (but not genre defining) include House Of The Devil.
All of this adds up to one thing; most seem to be missing a sense of charm and inventiveness. Has the horror renaissance of the early 00s finally succumbed to a lack of ingenuity? Ask yourself this (and to expand on my own tweet), when was the last time you bothered to sit and watch a recent horror film and thought; yea that’s something special, I must let more people know about this. It seems that this is now an all to rare occurrence within this genre (and its subsequent sub-genres).
But then I look at future films such as Ti West’s The Innkeepers (which looks suitably creepy and interesting) and realise that there might be life in the old horror hound yet. Very few films might be creative enough in recent times, but directors such as West, Paco Plaza et al are at least trying to bring something interesting into the mix (its just a shame it isn’t innovative enough for my horror needs). Maybe I’m just getting jaded, but it seems that only classical horror (Universal and Hammer Horror) along with low budget 70s/80s horror, really provokes a reaction out of me.
It seems that rediscovering horrors of yesteryear are what genuinely flicks my filmic switches nowadays. This has both its good and bad points; for starters discovering long forgotten or only recently released cult horrors gives me a sense of both excitement and wide-eyed wonderment (if the film is a lost classic). It’s that sense of euphoric elation that is missing from recent features and is one of the reasons why these features are enjoyable. Whereas the bad points seem to be that you do play a game of roulette, as some features really should stay hidden (but this is a small price to pay).
For instance I can remember the first time classics of the genre were played in front of my young, impressionable eyes. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre still resonates with me now, its badly acted and a difficult watch at times, but then that’s part of its charm. The first time I ever watched Tobe Hooper’s classic was on a late winters eve (by the way this isn’t intentionally for dramatic effect, but it helps). So engrossed (and grossed out) was I by the events that unfolded (its use of sound is still amazing and unique) that it genuinely stayed with me for days after.
The same can be said about William Friedkin’s The Exorcist, a prime example of how to build tension and effectively chill the audience to its very core. The Exorcist is still one of the only films that gives me the creeps with subsequent viewings (along with The Exorcist III, which is supremely underrated). It contains so many expertly crafted shots and top class performances that I feel almost insulted when people say it didn’t scare them or they found it boring (but that’s a whole other kettle of fish).
I think what i’m trying to say is that modern horror that provokes a response from me is a rare thing indeed, it certainly has yet to reach the levels of amazement that I first encountered with films like The Exorcist or TCM. Honestly that saddens me, especially when I walk into supermarkets or DVD shops and see buyers pick up the latest horror or direct-to-DVD pap. But then like a friend of mine said, “if you pick up shit you deserve to watch shit”. I think deep down he had a point.
So what was the last good modern horror that you watch? Was there even one? Or could you recommend any I might have missed. Sound off in my comments section and let me know.