IS ‘THE CONJURING’ A HERALD FOR GOOD TIMES AHEAD?

A Guest Post From Zeke Iddon & The New York Film Academy:

 

It’s been a bad decade for horror. While the early 2000s gave us plenty of memorable movies, from the original Final Destination to the zombie explosion following 28 Days Later, the years following have been a mixed bag; mostly terrible with a slew of bad remakes, and only a handful of really interesting fright-fests popping up in between (such as last year’s genre-busting Cabin in the Woods.)

Cabin In The Woods NYFA

Part of the problem, of course, is that we’ve become a generation of genre-savvy viewers who are growing harder and harder to scare. As we become increasingly reliant on technology, we’ve gained access to a great many things that earlier generations never had. We can watch news footage of atrocities from around the world, and the violent media helps to insulate us against the fake blood and gore on the screen. We’re also, as a whole, more cynical, more knowledgeable, and less afraid of the unknown – because in a world connected by the Internet, there’s very little “unknown” left.

All of which is not to say that we can no longer be scared. It just means that the things that frighten us have changed, and horror has taken a while to catch up.

 The Shadow of Torture Porn

The other problem that’s haunted the horror genre is that, for the past decade or so, mainstream horror has been almost completely synonymous with “torture porn.” While a few of these movies were quite good – like the early entries into the Saw franchise – many more of them were terrible. Filling hours of screen time with blood and guts held together by the barest thread of a story isn’t good film making, and it did plenty to turn off long-time horror fans and newcomers to the genre.

Human Centipede NYFA

By the time 2010 rolled around, horror fans knew it was time to revitalize the genre. Insidious was one successful attempt, and it began to lay the groundwork for future films, but it hardly did enough to turn the genre around on its own.

Fortunately, James Wan was prepared to roll out another film that could help build on the framework he created.

James Wan: The New Father of Horror?

If anyone is in the position to recreate the horror genre, it’s James Wan. He was, after all, partially responsible for the torture porn phenomenon after directing Saw, and his filmography since has shown plenty of promise. While Dead Silence was nothing special, Insidious was a standout film and The Conjuring follows up on everything it does right: creepy atmosphere, superb casting and an attention to quality writing. With an upcoming Insidious sequel, Wan is clearly laying the groundwork for more films in the same vein.

Insidius 2 NYFA

Of course, he can’t revolutionize horror on his own. If audiences are clamoring for more creepy, supernatural thrillers, other directors will need to step up and fill that demand. We’ve seen this already, to some extent, with Andres Muschietti’s Mama and Drew Goddard’s hilarious-yet-spooky Cabin in the Woods. A lack of budget isn’t an excuse for not delivering the goods, either; as Michael Gallagher, director of Smiley, and recent film school graduate of the NYFA, puts it: “Horror movies fit a low budget. You can do a lot more with a little.

Now that it’s clear that horror fans are eager for more of the same, horror directors should start to step up and deliver. We can only hope that the results are as good as the early examples so that horror can really appreciate a full-fledged revival.

 

I’d like to thank Zeke Iddon and the New York Film Academy again for this guest post, the first in BackwoodsHorror history. You can find Zeke Iddon on Twitter & Google Plus, and don’t forget to check to check out the website for the New York Film Academy!

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