After a period of major studio remakes and found footage knock-offs, it feels like scary movies are once again being reclaimed by intelligent film makers outside of the mainstream. Subsequently, the last four years have had loads of great releases and it has felt like a new golden age. Let me explain further…
The seeds of this revolution may have been sown by Guillermo del Toro’s Spanish language films, as well as Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In, J. A. Bayona’s the Orphanage and Alejandro Amenábar’s The Others. The literary tradition of the gothic horror genre has always lent it respectability, but the critical plaudits received by these films have surely helped usher in a new indie credibility.
Recently, indie filmmakers seem more interested in adding a twist to the classical gothic themes, such as the Iranian vampires in A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night (2014) or the hipster romantic vampires of Only Lovers Left Alive (2013). It Follows (2015) gave us modern fears wrapped up in a supernatural curse and we got one of cinema’s most convincing devils with the goat Black Philip in The Witch, 2015. We have even had ghost stories, the best since Japan started exporting haunted videotapes, such as the Babadook (2014) and Under The Shadow (2016), set during the Iran-Iraq war.
Away from the gothic, Bone Tomohawk (2015) transported a group of Cravenesque cannibals to the classical western movie genre and Green Room (2015) played up to prescient fears of neo-nazism in a stunning confined-space thriller. Zombie movies had become as dumb as their protagonists (especially when trying to complete with the epic Walking Dead on TV) but Train To Busan (2016) and the twisty Girl With All The Gifts (2016) show there is somehow life left in the undead. Even some mainstream hits such as Don’t Breathe (2016) and M Night Shyamalan’s big return in Split (2017) (which I found slightly overrated) were interesting.
I am yet to see The Wailing (2016) and I Am Not A Serial Killer (2016) but I am convinced that horror is as strong as it has ever been: the year ahead looks excellent with Prevenge, The Bad Batch and The Love Witch all due out. The world is becoming a scarier place every day, and horror movies have a way of feeding off modern fears. Let’s hope they continue to do so in such original and interesting ways.