Fear is not just an emotion – it’s an art. An art that can only be formulated in two ways: real events that happen in your life that induce fear, or it can be artificially manufactured through eerie and horrific compositions in images, music and more importantly, cinema.
Horror films use all of these components to strike a match in the depths of your brain and body. Using music, pictures and plot, the greatness that comes from horror films is buried underneath the art of fear – but only if you’re watching the right thing. If you have a hard time finding horror movies that are actually scary or believable, you are watching the wrong ones.
To hell with that typical horror plot of a family or group of friends that moved into a haunted house. The black guy dies first, if you have sex first you will most likely be next and following that there is likely some tasteless grand ending that involves a lot of jump scares weaved through uninteresting story elements.
These films are a sorry excuse for horror, and to be introduced to scary movies by this plot is a catastrophe. There is more to horror than those movies. You just have to look deeper – find movies that ring louder in meaning and character development like, for example, A24 studio horror films do.
A24 studio horror films like blockbuster film Hereditary and The Killing of a Sacred Deer use tactical elements of fear to give a different kind of spook than the typical “haunted family” plot. A24’s horror style uses elements of silence, cringe, dialogue and blood to make the viewer so belligerently uncomfortable that they are actually afraid. Instead of cheesy dialogue, there are blank stares and camera pans that disorient the viewer. They also use tactics like complete silence (no jump scares, no scary music) to create the type of fear that someone won’t get from the typical horror plot because it’s not only relatable, it’s also believable. It could happen in real life, or your worst nightmares.
There are also countless foreign and domestic films like Raw, a movie about a cannibal college student that combine themes like feminism and capitalist systems to create a horrific plot that is both thought provoking and scary. There is also Henry, that follows the path of a serial killer unbeknownst to the people in his life throughout the film.
The horror genre has evolved over the years, and it is interesting to pick apart some of the films to figure out what made people afraid at that time in history. There are many ideas out there that are way more abstract than what most of us are used to. Somewhere in there, you will find a horror film that scares you.