With the popularity of movies like “The Nun” and “The Quiet Place” and TV shows such as “American Horror Story,” the horror genre seems to be rising from the grave much like the zombies of “The Walking Dead.”
Horror movies in the past have received a bad reputation due to the over use of tropes and stereotypes, such as the first to die being a dumb blonde, using a gratuitous amount of low quality special effects, gore and jump scares in every other scene. Horror movie cliches were so overused that they became satirized in movies like “Scream.”
While these are valid criticisms, recent remakes and box office numbers show horror movies are gravitating back towards popularity.
“I love horror movies. I can’t pick a favorite,” junior elementary education major Chelsea McDaniel said.
Horror films have been around almost as long as movies have. Each generation can boast of providing a classic horror ranging from “Frankenstein” (1910) to “Psycho” (1960) to “Paranormal Activity” (2009). However, it is 2017 that can boast of some of the highest horror movie success.
According to the New York Times, 2017 was the biggest box office year for horror films. During 2017, hit scary movies included the remake of Stephen King’s “It,” “Jigsaw” and the critically acclaimed, Oscar-nominated “Get Out.” The year also saw the release of movies that slayed the box offices such as “The Shape of Water,” “Rings,” and “Annabelle: Creation.”
However, it is the newest addition to “The Conjuring” lineup, “The Nun,” which takes the prize as one of the highest grossing films of 2018, earning a total of $53.3 million on its opening weekend.
Simon Thompson, a writer at Forbes, uploaded an article ranking each Conjuring film by its box office earnings.
“So far, the movies in the Conjuring Universe have collectively taken $426.24 million at the domestic box office by the end of their runs, unadjusted for inflation - that figure increases to $471.61 million adjusted,” Thompson said. “Globally, that figure hits $1.2 billion, unadjusted, and that’s not to be sniffed at as it makes the Conjuring Universe the third highest-grossing horror franchise in history - it’s also now the highest-grossing R-rated horror franchise.”
Thompson put the movies in order from least grossing to highest: “Annabelle: Creation” (2017), “Annabelle” (2014), “The Conjuring 2” (2016), “The Conjuring” (2013) and “The Nun” (2018).
It is not just recent smashing success at the box office that should have horror fans excited. Remakes of popular horror movies such as “It” brought about a new of generation scary movie fans.
The surge in genre’s popularity may be a key factor in the attempt to reboot the “Friday the 13th” franchise.
The news of Victor Miller, one of the original writers of “Friday the 13th,” won back the rights to the film from Sean Cunningham and Horror Inc. Oct. 6. This is one of the last hurdles for the franchise to reboot itself.
“Friday the 13th” slashed its way to being an iconic horror film in 2009 with the introduction of the hockey-mask-wearing Jason Voorhees and his need for a bloody and watery revenge.
Northwest also has its ties to horror films.
Northwest alumnus Justin Ross played a hand in the remake of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” He has also worked on several other projects, including the “Babysitter Murders.”
“Everyone who worked on ‘Texas Chainsaw 3D’ felt the weight of its existing fan base on our shoulders,” Ross said. “The entire cast and crew were huge fans of the franchise Tobe Hooper built, and took the responsibility we had to the world he created very seriously. Whenever adding to such an iconic franchise, the challenge is always being able to give the current fan base what they’ve grown to love about that world and the characters within it, while contributing something new and exciting to the story as well. That’s a huge creative challenge, and I’m proud of the enormous effort our team put forth to do just that.”
“I think it’s really cool someone from Northwest got to do something so cool,” sophomore arts major Aaron Phillips said.
The love of scary movies, however, isn’t universal. The idea of liking horror stories still seems to mystify some.
“I personally love horror movies, something about being afraid of something you don’t entirely understand gives an excitement I can’t quite describe,” Philips said. “My favorite horror movie is ‘The Woman in Black’ due to the setting and overall atmosphere of the film. Horror movies coming back into style is awesome, and I’m really excited to see what concepts creators and directors go after.”
Jeffrey Goldstein, a professor of social and organizational psychology at the University of Utrecht, told IGN why he thinks people still turn to horror films for fun.
"People go to horror films because they want to be frightened, or they wouldn't do it twice,” Goldstein said. “You choose your entertainment because you want it to affect you. That's certainly true of people who go to entertainment products like horror films that have big effects. They want those effects.”
“I think people who don’t like scary movies are babies,” McDaniel said.
People turn to horror films for the same reason others turn to roller coasters: it’s safe danger.
Viewers get the adrenaline of being in a dangerous situation, like being attacked by a malevolent demon, without the actual dangers of being in the situation. They can pay as little or as much attention as they want from the comfort of their couches or their movie theater seat.
Overall, it appears horror films are rising up and entering a new, prosperous age of scaring audiences.