Blumhouse's Black Christmas remake getting a PG-13 has received a lot of fan backlash, but an R-rating isn't necessary for a horror movie to be good. To be fair, some of the criticism is understandable, to a point. Both 1974's original Black Christmas movie and the sleazy but forgettable 2006 remake were rated R, and contained both bad language and graphic violence. Also, Black Christmas is a slasher film, and slashers are especially known for pushing the R-rating's limits.
That said, this conversation isn't new. Every time a high profile horror film is rated PG-13, there's a certain amount of complaining about it. While it's true that most of history's best horror movies are rated R, that doesn't mean a PG-13 rating is some kind of death sentence for the genre. In fact, there have been some really great horror films with ratings less than R, and that's not even counting classics released prior to the PG-13 rating's creation in 1984.
There are a large amount of PG-13 horror movies worth watching, and it's important to note that the examples discussed below are by no means exhaustive. Still, they should serve to make clear that a PG-13 rating is nothing for horror fans to be scared of.
There Are Many Great PG-13 Horror Films
For a relatively recent example of good PG-13 horror, one doesn't even need to look outside Blumhouse's own catalog. 2010's Insidious, one of the films that put James Wan on the map as a director, contains some intensely creepy imagery, nerve-rattling scares, and no less intensity than your average R-rated effort. Insidious was a smash hit, earning $97 million on a $1 million budget, and spawning three successful sequels. Blumhouse also recently proved that not even a slasher flick demands an R-rating to be good, via the critical and commercial hit Happy Death Day. Even within the content limitations of PG-13, Happy Death Day managed to feature creative kills, likeable characters, and an engaging story.
Horror Doesn't Need Gore & Profanity to be Good
While the overall trend in mainstream horror filmmaking is a lack of nudity - much to the consternation of some - what still sets apart R-rated horror from PG-13 is more blood, gore, and swearing. The thing is though, while those things can certainly add fun to a film, they aren't required for a horror movie to be scary or entertaining. For example, look at 2002's The Ring, a critical and commercial smash that launched a years-long trend of Japanese horror remakes. The Ring contains some of the creepiest imagery around, and scare scenes that had many viewers white-knuckling their seats. Even if a horror film focuses less on terrors of a psychological nature, they can still succeed without an R-rating. Just take a look at Sam Raimi's Drag Me to Hell, which manages to be disgustingly gross, suspenseful, shocking, and surprising, all within the confines of PG-13. Will Blumhouse's Black Christmas remake suck? It might, but if it does, it won't be because it's PG-13.
- Black Christmas (2019) release date: Dec 13, 2019