09th Apr2018

Culture Dump #30: Are we Experiencing a New Wave of Mainstream Horror?

by Simon Bland

a-quiet-place

Modern horror has been killing it recently. From 2016 frighteners Raw, The Ghoul and knocked-up knock out Prevenge to last year’s tension builder It Comes At Night and throwback mega-hit It, the horror genre has been riding a wave of smart, challenging and most importantly – really good – films that cater to both mainstream and die-hard indie audiences alike. What’s more, this wave of goodness shows no sign of slowing. Just this week we’ve been treated to Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson’s cryptic chiller Ghost Stories and John Krasinski’s critically praised terror A Quiet Place and we’re barely four months into 2018.

Could this resurgence result in the horror genre being taken a bit more seriously? It’s a thought so appealing you almost don’t dare utter it out loud. If the release of Jordan Peele’s surprise hit Get Out last year is anything to go by, then perhaps this new wave of horror means a little more than just a few decent movies. It’s safe to say that not even Peele himself ever envisioned his twisted take on racism in popular culture would have taken him all the way to the Academy Awards. However the fact that he ultimately found himself taking home an Oscar for the movie says tonnes about the way audiences are beginning to change their perceptions of the genre. If a smart horror like Get Out can be deemed award worthy in the eyes of the Academy, then surely we can expect more filmmakers follow suit.

Krasinski’s A Quiet Place may well be the first drip of the flood. His sophomore feature couldn’t be more mainstream – it’s a monster movie directed by none other than Jim from The Office – and yet critics from all outlets are already singing its praises as a film with both scares and substance. Clearly filmmakers are already starting to tiptoe down the route that Peele paved with Get Out and with Toni Collette’s horror mystery Hereditary due out in just a few months, it’s a safe bet that this path is about to get much more crowded.

Or maybe not. If Hollywood’s known for anything, it’s cashing in on crazes and bleeding them dry. Maybe Get Out’s success will signal nothing more than a flash in the pan, leaving the horror genre lurking in the bottom shelves of DVD stores and deep-scrolled pages of Netflix sub-genres – and that’s fine too. After all, the unique selling point of this cult corner of filmmaking has always been its underdog appeal – films so nasty, mainstream viewers just can’t handle them quite yet. The horror genre will continue to kill it – whether or not mainstream viewers want in on the action sooner rather than later is up to them.

Do you think horror movies are about to have their day in the sun? Let me know in the comments section below!

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