Horror movies scare with lack of story

Nathan Fisher

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Illustration by Sophie Cooper-Ellis.

After Halloween last week, I was reminded how much I hate being scared and how the horror movie genre is the worst.  Nothing (and I mean nothing) about horror films is attractive to me. When I sit down to watch a movie, I expect to enjoy the experience or get blown away, not to be terrified out of my mind. The whole sensation of being scared simply has no appeal to me.

Although I myself am a total wuss when it comes to scary movies, I decided to ask people what draws them to the horror genre. After sifting through the responses, I found that people either love or hate horror films. The reason behind both the love and the hatred was often one and the same. People who disliked horror found the films unappealing because they hated being scared or because the movies tended to be so ridiculous that they laughed at the implausibility and couldn’t get past the silliness. On the opposite side of the horror aisle, many found the absurdity of horror films and the grotesque violence alluring. One person simply loved to watch people get cut up… Not surprisingly, the vast majority of female horror fans told me to “man up” and watch more horror films. As if I should enjoy or be able to handle scary horror films because I am a guy.

An issue I have with generic horror films is the substitution of storytelling for cheap scares. My favorite “horror story” is the 2012 film, “Cabin in the Woods.” This film is a spoof of all the classic elements of a horror film: A group of friends goes to a remote and isolated location, are unable to escape an element or demon as they are picked off one by one, and a survivor or two discovers and tries to exploit the demon’s weakness in an attempt to survive. The group is also made up of the classic horror film characters: the jock, the ditzy blonde, the geek guy, the clumsy friend and the All-American girl we all root for to survive. I enjoyed “Cabin in the Woods” not for the horror or scary/grotesque elements, but because of the intelligent script and way the filmmakers mocked the core elements of the horror genre that they were using to tell the story.

Getting joy from most horror movies comes down to whether or not people enjoy having their funny bone tickled. While my favorite “horror” film doesn’t shy away from scary moments, I prefer movies that never let cheap scares overshadow the story. I simply do not relate with people who enjoy the thrill of have the crap scared out of them. I remember, as a resident assistant, taking my section to the haunted corn maze and not hiding behind the six-foot eight or the seven-foot tall residents but choosing to push my friend, and fellow resident assistant, in front of me as a shield. She claims that I screamed several times and shoved her against the wall towards the scary people.

While I may not completely agree with her version of the story, we both agree that I screamed bloody murder and was terrified … Even in “real” life, getting scared has no appeal to me. So if watching Freddy Krueger, possessed dolls and evil clowns excites you, feel free to enjoy the terrifying experience on your own. I will be staying home where the chainsaws can’t get to me and where I can still appreciate a good and funny story, watching “Oceans Eleven” for the hundredth time.

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