Last week, Vogue posed the question, remember when horror was good? The question was followed with the blanket statement that 2017 was a far superior year for horror, due to It, Split, and lesser-known indie and foreign flicks such as Raw and It Comes at Night. The writer, Taylor Antrim, also labels Get Out a “masterpiece of social horror,” but then surmises that because Get Out didn’t win the Oscar that year (Jordan Peele did, however), that the air went out of the genre. If anything, I would argue that 2018 was another strong year for the genre, extending the new golden age.
First, Antrim admits that A Quiet Place, Hereditary, and Suspiria are good films, but the writer tries to remove the horror label from them and instead calls them thrillers. This is what some critics tried to do last year when Get Out earned Oscar nods. There were articles about “post-horror,” socially conscious films concerned with bigger ideas than guts and gore. The genre, they argued, couldn’t handle such serious themes! I guess they never watched any of Romero or Hitchcock’s horror films. It is beyond me how Antrim can see these new films as anything but horror. The first 15 minutes of A Quiet Place are some of the most nerve-jangling scenes I witnessed in cinema all year. The rest of the film features creatures terrorizing a family. Citing Hereditary, Antrim says that the genre could use a dose of humor and fun. On the one hand, I’ll admit that humor and dark delight do have a place in horror. Get Out is a good example, as well as classics like Re-Animator and Dawn of the Dead. Other genre staples, though, like The Exorcist and Night of the Living Dead are pretty short on the jokes. Would anyone question their importance to the genre because they lack punch lines?
Antrim saves most of the criticism for Halloween, this year’s highest-grossing horror film. The author’s main gripe is that the film simply wasn’t scary. I beg to differ. David Gordon Green’s film returns Michael Myers to a force of nature, and his kills are brutal without being gratuitous, unlike Rob Zombie’s two Halloween films. Perhaps more importantly, the reboot gives substance to the Final Girl, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis), making her the hunter who wants to overcome her trauma. Even Antrim admits that the film is relevant in 2018 and the era of #MeToo.
Within the article, Antrim says that Hereditary, A Quiet Place, Suspiria, and even the French film Revenge are good films, while trying to dislodge them from the horror label. All of these films belong to 2018, and all of these films fall within the horror genre. Vogue’s article is a continuation of the flurry of pieces last year that tried to discredit the genre. 2017 was indeed a great year for horror, but so was 2018. Hereditary, A Quiet Place, and Halloween raised a heck of a lot of money at the box office while being interesting films, short on jump scares. The year also produced a number of wonderful foreign and indie films, including Revenge, Terrified, The Witch in the Window, Ghost Stories, among others. As horror continues to do well at the box office and earn praise, it’s likely articles like Antrim’s will continue to be published. To that, I say, may the new golden age of horror extend well into 2019!