Horror movies might not seem like the most comforting of genres, but underneath the slicing and dicing and buckets of blood, is there something soothing about it all?
It’s just been announced that an eighth Saw film is being developed, and not everyone would find another dose of torture porn a relaxing prospect, horror is a genre fond of endless sequels and remakes.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching all of the Halloween movies (the originals) and am just embarking on doing the same with the Friday The 13th films, and there is comfort in familiarity.
Certainly with Friday The 13th, the second film is almost exactly a retread of the first one, albeit with Jason Voorhees replacing his mother as the killer. Same lake, same bunch of horny teenage counsellors, same brutal deaths.
Slasher films portray events that would be beyond horrific in real life, but are greeted with glee on screen. Just think of the baying crowds at Stab screenings in the Scream franchise, or the webcam viewers in Halloween: Resurrection when they think they’re watching a pretend Michael Myers pretend to kill people.
And when this dark form of light entertainment becomes formulaic over a run of sequels, it inevitably takes the form more of fun than horror. Just look how comic Freddy Krueger became in the Nightmare On Elm Street franchise, until Wes Craven played on that in New Nightmare, unsettling the balance by going meta and bringing back a menacing version of Freddy in the ‘real’ world.
There’s no genre that compares with horror for repetition, with 10 Michael Myers films, 12 Jason Voorhees films, 9 Freddy Krueger films, 6 Chucky films and even 7 Leprechaun films. How many horror movie classics can you name that HAVEN’T been remade in the last ten years?
Hollywood knows what we like in our horror, and it’s the same old thing over and over again. Jason slashing his way through a bunch of nubile teens shouldn’t be interesting the seventh time over, and film critics would back that up, but we don’t care. We lap it up regardless.
When I’ve finished the Halloween/Friday The 13th marathon, I’ll have watched 22 films, but how many would I say were genuinely ‘good’? By regular standards, only the first Halloween is actually that good, but I’ll have enjoyed all of them, one way or another. Even Halloween: Resurrection has its moments.
And next October, I’ll be watching them all again, snuggling up on the sofa while the rain lashes down outside and eating popcorn, watching people get killed in horrible ways, and feeling really relaxed.
Or is that just me?