I don’t think I’ve ever been genuinely scared by a horror film. Is that bad? Does it make me strange? Probably. I’m just completely desensitised to anything a film maker provides me, a horror film fanatic, with. I’ve entertained the idea of me being an ice maiden, with a cold heart to rival that of Janine from Eastenders. However this argument was soon put to bed when I spent a full 5-10 minutes crying over The Little Mermaid. I’m not talking about my childhood either, this was literally a couple of weeks ago. I rested upon the idea of “perfect horror film ingredients” to explain me sitting through every scary movie in utter boredom/amusement.
What makes a perfect horror film? A good storyline is paramount. Nobody wants to witness a telephone that becomes possessed and uses its GPRS to track down innocent victims, only to then play the “crazy frog” ringtone to them until they kill themselves out of sheer insanity. Next on the list is a creepy villain who brings about a great deal of hate. Think Piers Morgan and multiply the amount people dislike him by about a thousand. That’s what film makers need to aim for. The third aspect to any respectable scary film is the effects. This includes make up that could rival the cast of TOWIE, with a bit of blood included for good measure. It’s so important to use blood that’s realistic, as opposed to something that looks like it’s been squirted out of a Tomato Ketchup bottle. The final component centres around the atmosphere created, which is where I think my problem lies.
The whole point of an atmosphere filled with suspense is not knowing what’s going to come next. Back in the day, film makers did this extremely well and found new ways of scaring film lovers. However, as this has become practiced in so many horror film it renders the effect useless. As soon as the blonde cheerleader heads into the basement of her house to get more alcohol for the party upstairs, you just know the door is going to lock behind her. Oh look, a big black figure in the corner is creeping out behind her. Oh god, a knife! Is he going to stab her? TURN AROUND, WOMAN! Why isn’t she turning around? God, she’s going to die. Dumb girl. After so many sequences that pan out like this, you kind of want her to get stabbed to death. When she starts crawling towards the garage door and attempts to escape underneath it, you mutter under your breath that the Killer better finish his job. He always does, to your enjoyment. I don’t think it used to be that way though. Instead of cheering the killer, people used to cheer for the survivor who managed to evade the grasps of the psychopath. You don’t cheer? Maybe that’s just me. Well this is awkward.
All joking aside, I think the exposure to the same kinds of atmospheric sequences has almost ruined the type of horror which draws upon sounds and music. Take a look at ‘The Silence Of The Lambs’. This has to be my favourite film of all time and when I initially said I’d never been scared by any film, I lied a little. It wasn’t so much fear but more sitting on the edge of my seat in complete suspense. It’s when this happens that your mind starts playing tricks on you. To me, that’s how the most successful horror films have been so scary. Let’s be honest here, there’s nothing that somebody could put in a horror film that would actually scare you just by looking at it. It’s the music, the lighting and the way in which it plays out. However there’s only so many music sequences you can listen to before you realise that things on a television screen aren’t actually going to jump out and stab/possess/torture/haunt you.
This horror film fallacy has led to a more ‘gore’ infested type of movie. If it’s alive and has blood running through it, there’s a very big chance that you’re going to have to watch as some complete nut job saws through it with a double-ended chainsaw. Don’t be surprised if he then tears ligaments from the bone with his rotting teeth and munches on it, whilst enacting a torture ritual that he learned first-hand from his inbred family. Nobody finds that scary as it is completely ridiculous. It is for this reason that I am adamant that it is horror movies that have declined in competence, as opposed to me developing a cold heart. I’m standing by that too.