Day By Day

Monday, June 08, 2009

Scary Stuff

Drag Me To Hell opened to critical acclaim, but performed disappointingly at the box office. Owen Gleiberman speculates on the reason why:
[F]ear itself may now seem like an almost delicate emotion within the debased universe of hardcore horror films. The horror audience doesn’t want to be scared, exactly. It wants to be shocked, ritually brutalized, wowed by sadism. To be scared, you have to imagine yourself in the place of the victim. Whereas in horror films today it’s the monster, unleashing his rock & roll havoc, who’s the secret hero, the one cool enough to rule over a frat house in hell.
Read it here.

This is the reason why I can no longer stomach horror films. Raw, brutal, sadistic violence has replaced the wide range of emotions that once characterized the genre. Think of the complex reactions and intellectual overtones evoked by Frankenstein's monster, or Larry Talbot, the wolfman, or even the characters in "Night of the Living Dead" and compare them with the sickness pouring from every frame "10,000 maniacs", the "Hostel" films, or the "Saw" franchise. And Gleiberman has a very good point when he notes that the viewpoint of the films has changed. In many films viewers are now encouraged to identify with the monster. This was a shocking thing when Hitchcock introduced it to us in "Psycho" [remember that scene where the car fails momentarily to sink into the swamp and for a second we are afraid that Norman Bates will be found out? Of course you do!] but today it is the norm. Victims don't matter, people don't matter -- only the monster matters and he/she has assumed heroic status.

I don't know about you, but the existence of a mass audience for such fare scares me.