The Gospel according to Horror Movies

Posted by Tim Posada On 12:59 AM
Horror movies are an awful way to gauge life. Mostly, they are moneymakers that lack narrative depth, character progression, and moral conviction. Analyzing culture through horror movies is truly looking at American culture at its worse. Horror films reveal the nature of the American audience. Studies show that the number viewer to grab is a 19-year-old male. Younger boys will cede to the preference of the 19-year-old boy and girls will cede to that same boy and age as well—yet that 19-year-old boy will not see anything a girl wants to see nor a younger or older age. Horror movies don’t make a lot but they considering how cheap they are to make, the money is good. Movies like Stay Alive and Cry Wolf make around 10 million, but others like Saw II, The Grudge, and The Ring each made more than Oscar nominees Crash, Munich, Brokeback Mountain, Good Night, and Good Luck, and Capote. What does this say about the American audience? It would be easy to say that they are fickle and lack depth of character as reflected in their movie choices. Yet, there may be something else going on.

Saw


There are certain horror films that take a greater conviction than simple scare tactics and new ways to slit a throat. The Saw movies hold true to their sadistic form but actually have a storyline. While the first film functions more like a cop mystery like Se7en, part two makes a home with many different ways to make an audience dry heave. I am aware that there are ethical problems with these films, yet they attempt to create moral parables through the seemingly hopeless genre of horror. For this reason, these films have the opportunity to encourage the apathetic viewer to actually live. Plus, the twists are pretty fun (part one more than part two).

28 Days Later


28 Days Later made the zombie movie genre smart. While the latest Dawn of the Dead movie created an interesting story (though a gory one), 28 Days Later actually provided a critique on humanity. Danny Boyle always produces interesting stuff, and this film provided amazing cinematography and editing along with a well-developed story. The original third act of the film had the main characters look for a radio transmission that provided hope for survivors in zombie-filled England. The father and daughter along with another man and women only found ruins of an army base. While there, the dad became infected. Eventually, the other survivors take their zombie father an abandoned hospital where they learn that the father can be healed with a full blood transfusion. The movie ends with the other man on the table in the hospital screaming because he became a zombie so the father could live. This ending was too unbelievable, so Danny Boyle decided to create an ending in which the army base in inhabited. The soldiers there have gone crazy and hope to have sex with or rape the daughter and the other woman. The soldiers attempt to execute the last surviving man (because dad becomes a zombie and is killed). The film ends with a final showdown: the man against the corrupted soldiers. Here we are shown how humanity might respond under chaos…and it ain’t pretty.

The Hills have Eyes


The Hills have Eyes is one of the many remakes flooding the dusty shelves of Blockbusters around the country—another gory, low-budget movie to bring in some extra money. Yet this cliché, under-developed piece of reel offers an interesting insight into horror-movie crazy America. It’s a story about the average family on vacation. And by average, I mean mass stereotyped “average”: white and middle-class. Consider this family the symbol of the “American dream.” Suddenly, they go down a wrong road and are attacked by freaks. They are attacked by those that America ignored—people that refused to leave a town that became radioactive from nuclear bomb testing. These people feed off of those who pass through (literally, they eat people and dogs, apparently). These people represent “the other,” whom blame America for their problems and are taking out their revenge on the “average” and decent American families that pass by. Thus, the “real” Americans must fight back—against those whom threaten the “American dream.” Thus, “the others” are destroyed by the sheer will of the “American dream.” Was this the point of The Hills have Eyes? Nope. The movie is shit. Yet, those who created this movie are a part of American culture, thus this film will in some way reflect American values.

In the End


Wes Craven would remind us that horror movies reveal our darkest fears: The Alien films remind us the boogeyman in the closet; The Predator is that monster we can’t see; The Ring reveals the power of an image; The Exorcism of Emily Rose shows us that suffering may be a possibility in life; and The Descent shows while monsters are scarey the greatest evil lies within a vengeful heart. True, getting to this point usually requires a thick stomach. I would never recommend half the movies I have just talked about (except The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which is a very important movie). Yet, there is an element of spirituality within these pieces of trash. There is a longing for something more. Horror movies are the last line of art, because the only thing lower is reality TV and porn (which are not art). Finding God in the trash ain’t pretty, but it is necessary.

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