It’s getting pretty scary out there for horror fans.
Horror hounds have suffered for years with weak remakes, torture porn-a-paloozas and other degrading attempts to make us jump. But 2010 represents a new low for the genre.
The Nightmare on Elm Street remake couldn’t scare a third grader. The biggest reaction to Devil came when audiences laughed over the story credit - “from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan.” And Survival of the Dead proved the zombie genre George A. Romero created has left him in the dust.
And let’s all agree that none of the Twilight films should be thrown in the horror category.
What’s worse is when a solid horror entry hits theaters it made precious little coin. Both Piranha 3D, the very definition of a B movie delight, and Let Me In underperformed during their theatrical releases.
The year’s bright spot came with The Last Exorcism, a no-budget affair which delivered real chills until the stilted finale.
So what’s a horror fan to do? Take action… and the sooner, the better. We may not know how to act, direct or otherwise produce compelling frightmares, but that doesn't mean we’re unable to save our beloved genre.
Avoid 3-D horror movies
Piranha 3D stands as the exception that proves the rule. Filmmakers aren’t looking to 3-D as a new storytelling device. It’s a gimmick, plain and simple, and an uninspired one at that. Was anyone scared when the pickax popped off the screen during the My Bloody Valentine remake? Didn’t think so. Don’t pay the extra fee for 3D horror. You’re only marginalizing the genre.
Just say no … to mindless remakes
Most horror remakes reek. Yes, this critic actually dug the new Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and Let Me In artfully duplicated the original’s somber tone. But most horror remakes exist to cash in on the brand, leaving little place for originality or story innovation. Horror fans were tipped off that Let Me In wasn't your average remake by an impressive cast (Chloe Moretz, Richard Jenkins) and director (Cloverfield's Matt Reeves). If you must pay to see a horror remake, check its credentials first.
Follow the blogs
The horror blogosphere is alive with film and DVD tips, trailers for upcoming films and interviews with the next wave of horror auteurs. Bookmark sites like Bloody-Disgusting.com , DreadCentral.com and HorrorMovies.ca to get the latest scoop on the scene. They'll alert you to worthwhile imports sneaking onto DVD without much fanfare (like the excellent 2008 film Eden Lake) and horror directors who share your film tastes. You’ll be a smarter consumer and you’ll be strengthening the horror film community at the same time.
Support the indies
At the risk of sounding like the snooty video store clerk who turns his nose up at anything commercial, some of the best horror movies come from the indie realm. Splinter, Rogue and House of the Devil stand as prime examples of quality shockers that got little or no theatrical love. Technological leaps have given young, scrappy filmmakers the tools to make terrific films that look nearly as good as their blockbuster peers. Consider the creatures in the otherwise flat movie Monsters. They couldn’t be concocted so cheaply a decade ago - or look so menacing.
Tweet the best of the rest
Social media isn’t just for cyber-stalking the cute girl in gym or keeping tabs with your old high school chums. It’s a powerful tool to spread the word about things you care about. And, if you just watched a gripping horror movie that isn’t on most people’s radar, let your friends know about it. Some horror actors/directors may also be online via Twitter or Facebook. Send them some praise. Chances are it’ll make their day - and push them a little harder to complete their next horror feature.
So the next time you endure a lackluster horror film don't shrug your shoulders and re-watch The Exorcist to cleanse the palate. Be proactive. Crush the film in 140 characters or less via Twitter and then scour the web for a more promising horror feature.