How My Perception of Horror Films Changed in 2018
Toni Collette in Hereditary

2018 has been a tremendous year for genre films, horror in particular. With that said, I wanted to talk about something that’s been on my mind for the latter half of this year.

Horror has been a major part of my life, mainly over the last few years, I’ve been completely immersed in it via films, books, comics, music, conventions etc. Once thing I’ve noticed is my taste in films has shifted quite a bit this year. Typically, my preference is what some would refer to as “trash films” as well as the established slasher genre ranging from the 80’s to 90’s. Why do I mention this, well, I typically avoided films that fell outside of this niche.

2017 showed that genre films can and will make just as big of a splash as the sugar coated pop culture phenomena that attracts wider audiences. This is how I knew that 2018 would be promising. Going into the theater with a total open mind and experiencing something new, something completely fresh did something to my perception of film. It helped me grow. Rather than expect something lesser than what I would deem a horror film, I let the cinematic experiences wash over me.

I think Hereditary was the first prime example of my taste in cinema changing. It was more than just a horror movie, this is a family drama first and foremost. Drama isn’t necessarily my cup of tea. To be frank, I highly dislike it. Hereditary crossed boundaries I never would have expected from a film that was released to general audiences. I cried during the film and when I left the the theater I felt as if I had left a piece of myself there. During the viewing people made all types of comments about how the film wasn’t scary, or laughed during scenes that I couldn’t at all fathom what was funny about it. This was the first time I looked around the theater and thought to myself, “Wow, these people just don’t get it.” That’s okay though. Hereditary isn’t for everyone. It’s for people who hold onto strong feelings and live with grief and turmoil in their hearts.

Nicolas Cage in Mandy

I think one of the next films that truly shifted my opinion on film, (cinematography specifically) was the Panos Cosmatos art house psychedelic gem, Mandy. Having not yet seen Beyond the Black Rainbow nor even knowing about the director, I went into Mandy completely blind. The only thing I knew about it was it looked “metal” and it was going to have some Nic Cage freak out scenes. When I sat down with my close friends group to watch this movie I was introduced to some camera work and editing that blew me perception of art house away entirely. The last film I saw something similar to this was The Neon Demon which was a magnificent film, highly reminiscent of Argento’s Suspiria, and Mandy was no different. The colors, the camera work, the blending of scenes that seemed to melt perfectly from one shot to the next. After viewing Mandy, I knew that I had a greater appreciation for art house camera work, I concept I never thought I’d be able to comfortably grasp.

The final film two films that I want to mention play majorly into my love for nostalgia in films. Everyone was in anticipation for David Gordon Green’s Halloween and I was no different. Seeing how this film had been passed around for a few years before actually being set for filming and release dates, I was anxious to see what was going to happen. A lot of people didn’t feel impressed by this movie but for myself, I think I actually caught myself wiping away tears because of the amount of nostalgia that washed over me in the theater. I loved the callbacks, I loved the attention to detail in comparison to the original and I loved the three generations of Strode’s fighting together against The Shape.

The Shape in 2018’s Halloween

Summer of 84 played a lot into the whole ‘Retro’ 80’s’ vibe that people have been really chewing on since the release of Stranger Things. I had a feeling in my gut that I was going to hate it. A quirky thriller with kids investigating murders? (sounds a lot like a ton of other movies). I actually caught this film on Vudu and man did it take a major hard turn on me. Without relaying too much info I want to say that the movie went in a much darker direction than I expected. I remember posting about this on Instagram praising it to death (along with many other genre fans).

This was an eye opener for me that I can’t just make assumptions about a film prior to going into it. I think 2017’s IT was also evidence of this for myself. If I go in open minded and unbiased I’ll enjoy genre films much more. “Remake” or not. Right now we’ve been seeing a lot of promotional material for the new Child’s Play movie and despite how I feel about that franchise in general, I’m going to remind myself to go into open minded and keep in mind that I need to treat this film as a fresh piece of material.

The reason I wanted to talk about these experiences and the shifting of my opinion is because we’re all genre fans. We all have hard opinions on what we do and don’t like but we don’t need to bash each other for it. We’re all into horror because we’re twisted individuals that find solace in watching bad characters get killed in gruesome ways. Horror is love and we should treat it as such. Together, let’s keep our fingers crossed that 2019 will continue to deliver cinematic gold because we all know we deserve it.

Summer of ‘84
Devin March
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