Entertainment

Scream Theory: What Makes a Horror Movie a Horror Movie?

ONE A few days before Halloween, Twitter account @NetflixFilm put out the call: “Technically, what movie isn’t a horror movie but feels more like a horror movie to you?” Attached is a photo of Gene Wilder with monstrous eyes in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Twitter is Twitter, some of the responses were flipped, like It’s a wonderful life and Cats. But there are also heavyweights like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Parasites. Children’s movies, including Pinocchio and Bambi, make cuts. It just goes to show that it’s the horror that scares you, not me.

Horror has always been an elastic and regenerating genre. It is suitable for all genres of cinema: comedy, sci-fi, action, romance, fantasy, documentary. Its versatility extends as far as the monstrous love story in Frankenstein’s Bride (1935) and present as the bloody horror of Malignant.

But how do you know you’re watching a horror movie when there’s no killer or monster, exorcism or blood? It’s a decades-old question asked about new movies that blur the line between horror and horror. horror film.

Among them are Human, Stephen Karam’s dark comic family drama set during Thanksgiving dinner; Daughter is gone, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s upcoming bizarre character study about a college professor at a Greek resort who is haunted by a vacationer and her daughter; and perhaps unexpectedly, Spencer, Psycho-Logical Dream Book, Speculation by Pablo Larraín about Princess Diana.

The film follows an insecure Princess of Wales (Kristen Stewart) as she spends her Christmas break on the brink of a possibly bogus madness. In his review for New York Times, AO Scott calls it a Christmas, psychological thriller, romance, and “a thriller about a fragile woman imprisoned in a spooky mansion, tormented by animals brutal monsters and their treacherous minions.”



A mystery that is expected to surprise its audience. A romcom that wants to meet all expectations and not violate the contract of the genre. Horror forces yourself to keep innovating

Read the reviews and these movies sound like the original Shudder. In Time, critic Jeannette Catsoulis used the words “monstrous”, “desperate”, “strange” and “sinister” to describe Human, concludes that the family is trapped in a haunted house. IndieWire said the film “blurs the line between Chekhov and Polanski – Broadway and Blumhouse” and is “the first true 9/11 horror film”. (Two of the family members were at zero that morning.) Guardians speak Daughter is gone tells the story of a woman who “haunts the resort like a ghost while other ghosts are haunting her”.

For some directors, locating the word “horror” anywhere near a movie they don’t consider a horror movie would be misleading or provocative. Not Karam. He was fascinated by horror movies as a child in Scranton, Pennsylvania; His gateway drug is Disney ghost story Viewers in the forest (1980), Bette Davis is the owner of a mansion in England, who is mourning her missing daughter.

Now 42 years old, Karam remains an avid horror fan, citing Stanley Kubrick and Roman Polanski as inspirations for the series. Human, which he directed and adapted for the screen from his 2016 Tony Award-winning play. Karam prides himself on the film’s horror elements because they help viewers visualize “how people are conquering or confronting their fears in a scary story.”

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Vacation from Hell: Dakota Johnson and Olivia Colman in a scene from ‘The Lost Daughter’

(AP)

“It’s important for me to think of a movie, a play or any story that I’m telling as having a strong, confident personality,” Karam said in a video interview. “I’m not bogged down by whether it’s a horror movie or a family movie because the definitions might dictate what horror movie owners are.”

Human takes place in a new duplex that is more clearly seen by Brigid (Beanie Feldstein) and her boyfriend, Richard (Steven Yeun). Visiting from Scranton are the working-class parents of Brigid, Erik and Deirdre (Richard Jenkins and Jayne Houdyshell); and Momo, the mother of Erik (June Squibb), who has amnesia. Also joining is Brigid’s older sister, Aimee (Amy Schumer), who lives in Philadelphia and has recently broken up with her girlfriend.

At the family table there are turkeys and good cuts of ribs, but also tough conversations about work, love, and depression. This is a family filled with love, but also full of resentment and heartache. Typical Thanksgiving drama content.

But from the very beginning, there was an uneasy feeling, as if something terrible was coming. Parts of the wall ooze and bubble with pustules like those developed on mutant David Cronenberg. There are eerie portraits of ghostly people, like the artwork from a haunted castle in the movie Hammer. Sensation, loud sounds, darkness, silence: It all makes the heart pound. Horror movie content.

So what style and form in Hollywood’s killer movie? Horror movies make audiences “feel uncomfortable, unsettled and disturbed,” he said.

Sometimes all it takes is one villain or scary mood, not an entire movie. Think of Robert Mitchum as a scoundrel preacher in a nightmare fairy tale Night of the hunter (1955), Faye Dunaway as the malicious Joan Crawford in the Dark Camp Dearest Mommie (1981) or Robert De Niro as the time bomb Travis Bickle in Taxi driver (In 1976).

Are they horror movies? Not necessarily. Are they scary? You bet.

(Ronald Grant Archive)

“In each of these films, there are moments, scenes, and sequences that are so precisely and cleverly designed that it leaves us feeling insecure, terrified, and scared,” Clayton said. “We were made to feel that way even when there’s nothing obvious on the screen, or as we know off-screen, to be scared.”

What’s more scary? Human and Spencer? Both are set during the winter break. It’s not a coincidence, says Andrew Scahill, an assistant professor of film at the University of Colorado, Denver: for many, family reunions and year-end reviews are fraught with shame. is a scary thing. It’s no wonder that in his class on Christmas cinema he included the feel-good movie musical. White Christmas (1954) and the wanton killer Black Christmas (1974).

Scahill, author of Rebellious kid in horror cinema. “A mystery is expected to surprise its audience. A rom-com that wants to meet all expectations and not violate the genre contract. Terror forces me to keep innovating.”

The conversation about these definitions will continue, and that’s a good thing, as young filmmakers take horror in unexpected directions and create new shape-shifting films. When Screaming (1996), Blair Witch Project (1999) and Get out (2017) once caused waves, they said: It’s time to have fun.

Another reason why this discussion is going nowhere is that the old debates are still alive. See what happened earlier this year when writer Elle Hunt tweeted: “Horror can’t be set in space” and horror fans received all kinds of outrage, reacting with examples like Alien (1979) and Jason X (2001).

“Horror,” writer Cory McCullough tweeted, “could be anything.”

This article originally appeared in New York Times

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/films/features/what-makes-a-horror-film-b1967520.html Scream Theory: What Makes a Horror Movie a Horror Movie?

Emma Bowman

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