It is a strange time for horror movies. Fueled by unnecessary franchises and an overall confusion about style, modern filmmakers have derailed themselves, pulling inspiration from too many styles at once. Elements of the Director’s Era horror of the 1970s or the MTV/Amblin generation that made waves in the 1980s are scattered everywhere, all while taking a supernatural aesthetic in tone and production that was last seen in the 1960s. It’s as if modern movie makers don’t know how to make horror films for this current climate.
Then came Get Out. The 2017 success was the first horror film in many years that not only commanded my attention and broke away from the status-quo, it hit the market in a way we haven’t seen since 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs, which coincidently was the last horror film since Get Out to have a run at Best Picture. Following Get Out came a true-to-form 80s film that reached so far back into the era that inspired it, it almost forgot it was giving homage to it. Instead, 2017’s It became something of our time and something we haven’t seen in horror films as of late, showing the world that audiences are not only hungry for intelligent horror but a refined, almost Hitchcockian horror. The seeds of the last few years can be seen at the top of the soil.
— Get Out (@GetOutMovie) March 5, 2018
Whenever we find ourselves in a polarizing political climate – the Nixon era brought about The Exorcist and slasher classics The Last House on the Left and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre; the Reagan era introduced the world to Freddy, Michael, and Jason – horror steps up to the plate. We are ripe as a society for intelligent and true-to-form horror; if done right, the Trump era could land us in the American Golden Age of horror.
Filmmakers not necessarily perceived as genre directors are taking huge risks in lending their voices to the horror genre. Luca Guadagnino — hot off making a straight-ahead Merchant-Ivory film Call Me By Your Name, — follows up this Oscar darling by delving into horror with a remake of Suspiria, while Get Out’s Jordan Peele comes from the most unlikely of places – standup comedy. Along with The Office’s John Krasinski, another director with a background firmly rooted in comedy, modern horror directors are bringing story, character, emotion, and intelligence back to the genre while simultaneously keeping the technical side of the film wound tight as a rope.
Krasinski turned it up a notch this year with the pitch-perfect A Quiet Place, and it felt as if the horror slump of the past decade was fading with a proper breed of intelligent horror set to take its place. All the mistakes and mediocrity that had become synonymous with modern horror felt like a distant memory. The strange landscape was becoming less foreign and convoluted, becoming more refined. It seemed like the ratio of twenty bad films to one good would be a thing of the past and my prior hesitations towards the genre were fading. Then I walked into Ari Aster’s Hereditary and everything to be critical about modern horror came flooding back.
— Hereditary (@HereditaryMovie) June 5, 2018
Toni Collette’s performance was something geared towards an episode of American Horror Story, more over-acted than not, and it was hard to take seriously from the get-go. Milly Shapiro and – the actor I still fondly refer to as “The Man”- Gabriel Byrne gave wonderful performances, though Byrne doesn’t stray far from his performance in In Treatment, leaving the audience with little new to grab hold of. I appreciate the vision behind the film, but it was poorly executed; while filmmakers are making strides to push boundaries in horror, we don’t need more films Hereditary. Drawing from the same over-used style of films like The Witch and The Conjuring, this seemed to revert back to this path of mediocrity in not only the acting but the passionless technical components.
For younger audiences and the general public, this film may be worth your time, but for the seasoned horror veteran: skip it. There are far better and lesser-known modern titles that have been breaking out as of late. And if you’re new to the genre, seek out the classics and garner an appreciation for what is to be hoped for in this new age of horror; understand where the influences are coming from, because once you go back to visit the foundations of the genre, you will start to notice ‘original’ films like Hereditary are really not original at all, and the praise we give them isn’t deserving. Did we really need another Rosemary’s Baby in the same calendar year as Mother!? We need to push our filmmakers to do better, and with a glimpse of greener grass, films like Hereditary need to be shown for what they are: a step backward.
– A Lalonder Review
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