Imagine, for a moment, that you are sitting with your friend at a coffee shop. Imagine your friend says to you “Want to go see THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY?” Confused, you ask “Why would you want to see that? It looks terrible.”
Your friend looks down, sad. They respond, “I know, but we need to support comedies or studios may stop making them”.
How would you react to that? Personally, I would get the urge to slap my friend and walk away. I wouldn’t slap them, because I am not a violent person, but I would, for a moment, want to smack some sense into them. Afterall, studios aren’t going to stop making comedies if THE BROTHERS GRIMSBY bombs at the box office.
And yet, this is a mantra we often hear with horror – it doesn’t matter that the movie doesn’t look good. It doesn’t matter that the reviews are terrible. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t the kind of horror you like. You have to go see it in the theater because if you don’t… studios will stop making horror movies.
Here’s the secret: they won’t. That argument is total bullshit. Horror is one of the few movie genres, if not the only one, that studios can count on to make money as long as they watch the budget. This isn’t a genre that depends on lavish special effects like superhero movies, or star recognition, like comedies. Horror movies depend on the genre, itself – make a good movie with some strong scares, and the audiences will come. The thing that studios have caught on to is that, with a low enough budget, you can make sure the die-hard horror fans come out and cover the cost.
You aren’t supporting horror by doing that, you’re enabling it. This analogy may be on the extreme side (it is) but by going to any and every horror movie that makes its way to the local Regal Cinema, all you’re doing is rewarding bad behavior, like a mother who gives her junkie son $10 he when he says he needs socks, but she knows he’s gonna buy heroin (told you it was on the extreme side). You don’t help anyone by doing this. Studios won’t work to make better horror because they know that if they put out a supernatural flick with a budget under $10 million, they’ll get their money back and then some without even trying. There’s no push from the horror community for better made horror movies. We stand on line on Friday night taking whatever “scary” movie that shows up at the cinema because we worry that if we don’t, there may not be another horror movie released for us to devour.
There will be more horror. There will always be more horror. What we need to do is realign the relationship we horror fans have with studios. We need to teach them to make good horror. That doesn’t mean more expensive. That doesn’t mean bigger. That means well-made. Solid characters with strong stories and good scares. What makes a movie like THE CONJURING work so well is that the scares are connected to the characters. We like the Perron family, and so we fear for them. THE BABADOOK connects with us because we can relate to Amelia. IT FOLLOWS hits home because everyone, in some aspect, fears intimacy, loss of innocence, and death. We lost interest in the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY series because it became less about the people, and more about jump scares and gimmicks.
We’re starting to see this with horror TV too. I can’t count on my two hands the amount of people I know who watch AMERICAN HORROR STORY every season, even though they haven’t liked it from the start. Why do they watch? To support horror. Same with WALKING DEAD. And even more people with FEAR THE WALKING DEAD. Every week, horror fans tune in to watch their least favorite shows, then head to the internet to tweet about how much they didn’t like it. Why? Why do this to yourself?
Move on! Demand good horror! Turn your back on quick cash-ins and half hearted attempts! Don’t waste your hard earned money on THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH, spend it on what you like! Unless you like THE WOMAN IN BLACK 2: ANGEL OF DEATH, in which case, go and buy your tickets. Who am I to tell you what horror is good and what horror is bad?
Just don’t spend your money on something you don’t want. We only have so much time on this rock, don’t spend it watching a movie you have no interest in, paying for a ticket, a Coke, and some popcorn just because you want to “support” horror. Horror will be OK if you don’t show up every time there’s a new release, but it can’t grow if you do.
*I want to be clear – I didn’t choose the shot from MATINEE because it is a bad movie. I love MATINEE. It just kind of fits with the idea of this piece.