Why I dislike most horror movies, especially their sequels

As a movie-lover, I sometimes feel bad about alienating the genre of horror movies as much as I do considering how well they perform at the box office. I watch very few of them and it’s not because I’m too scared (though I’ll admit I get jumpy no matter how many times horror directors abuse the quick reveal), but it’s because they’re not your usual movies — they have a very segmented audience.

I bring up the subject this weekend because apparently distributors now think Halloween occurs the last weekend in August. Both “The Final Destination” (instead of 4 they put up a “the”) and Rob Zombie’s Halloween remake sequel “Halloween II” come out today, probably moved to the end of August to catch the very last of the summer entertainment wave and because the Saw franchise has monopolized the Halloween release the last six years now.

As you might imagine, I’ll be staying out of the theaters this weekend, even avoiding the new “Taking Woodstock” with Emile Hirsch because to be honest it looks like a better DVD movie than anything. Anyway, horror movies will almost never get me to drop some cash, especially their sequels. 

Let’s start with “The Final Destination” aka “Final Destination 4 in 3D.” I suppose the idea of 3D is enough to excite the wallets of anyone who has a moderately successful mediocre movie franchise, especially one as ridiculous as the Final Destination movies. The concept of these movies is always the same. A character is with a group of friends doing something generally considered safe but capable of disaster; character sees visions of disaster and prevents his/her friends from doing said generally safe thing and they live; the living force of death comes to claim their lives in sick and twisted ways. That’s it. Always. Maybe there have been unique twists to each one, but I’ve only seen the first movie, you know, when it was a novel idea.

Essentially, the Final Destination movies thrive on one concept: outside-of-the-box death scenes. There’s no slasher/murderer, no zombies, nothing. When death works as a supernatural force, anyone can die in any way possible and its the writers’ jobs to make it creative and frightening. This is much in the same way that Saw can invent endless torture games for people to do horrific stuff in order to save their lives.

What we have here is not a film, but a thrill-seeking movie. Horror is entertainment in its purest form, like raw sugar. There’s little reservation about sacrificing characters and developing lackluster story lines because people go in to these movies to get freaked out. I, on the other hand, love movies for their depth of visual storytelling. Occasionally I’ll find a horror/thriller/mystery hybrid that does both, but it’s rare. I reviewed “Rosemary’s Baby” a couple weeks ago — now that’s a great story under the horror genre. “Alien” is an awesome sci- fi horror movie. Creative storytelling has basically been zapped from today’s horror films, because filmmakers keep re-imagining and recycling the same premises.

Rob Zombie remade “Halloween” and “Halloween II” with the idea of reinventing Michael Myers and giving him more dimension, but it was the original Laurie Strode played by Jamie Lee Curtis that made the original a classic. I can’t say if Laurie was given the same strength in the 2007 remake, but odds are no. Why remake a classic? The only answer to that question is for money. When has a classic, an undeniably great film, been remade and done better? I think this happens because horror producers are lazy SOBs who can’t come up with anything new, understand it takes little effort to turn a profit in their genre, and so they turn to old favorites, sequels and Japan for their projects.

I fully respect those who get escapism by watching people die or get hunted or whatever the individual formula might be, but it’s not why I go to the movies. I’ve given enough horror movies a chance and the result for me has always been that I get nothing but a raised heart rate and elevated stress levels. I don’t feel like I’m being creatively challenged and entertained at the same time, I feel like the creator’s goal every time is to see if I’ll crap myself. That’s not why I watch movies and its why few critics will give better than passing grades to a horror movie.


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