With Paranormal Activity 3 having premiered with the highest grossing horror film opening weekend ever, maybe it's time to look at what horror fans really like. Gore took over in place of thrillers and ghost stories for awhile, but has gore finally lost its sheen? Has Saw 325 put the final nail in the gore porn coffin?
I haven't seen Paranormal Activity 3, and it will probably be awhile (video, ahem) until I do, but I know the type of film it represents. It's the softer spoken kind of horror that builds the tension for awhile then sends chills up your spine without spraying intestines all over the screen to accomplish this. It's the kind of scary that may seem inconsequential at first, but creeps up on you as you shut out the lights and head up to bed, straining for you in the darkness as your feet pick up speed and your spine tries to outrun the rest of your body. You laugh at yourself once you reach the safety of your bedroom, but then it's time to turn off the lights. That's when the terror creeps under your bedroom door and slithers underneath your bed or into the gaping maw of your darkened closet, waiting for your head to touch that pillow. This kind of horror, where you don't really see a monster, works to make your sleep a little harder to come by. The evil the victims face is implied, exhibited more discreetly.
Take a moment to look at one of the gory horror films. Choose one, be it Hostel, Turistas, Saw 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 17, 29, 36..., Wrong Turn, etc. The fright is in the depravity of the perpetrator and in the horrific torture insinuated on the victims. Considering that this is something that could really happen, that these are typically human monsters rather than spectral ones, is part of the fright. It puts the scary in going to a stranger's house, going out in public, going on a trip to another country, staying in a hostel, or basically leaving your house in any way, shape or form. But where these movies fail to scare watchers is in their own homes. When these were the films horror fans were clamoring for, they still had a safe place to go. Bed was a safe haven, not a place ripe for ghostly attacks.
This particular monster watches you in your own home. It waits for you to come in the front door and slide the lock home. It hears you let out that little breath of relief because you know you're safe again, all locked into your own space. This monster doesn't have to be visible to you until it wants to be. It can stand over you as you slumber in your bed, as exposed and unprepared as possible. It is the monster that knows where you are at your most vulnerable and can seize the advantage whenever it wishes. You could be cooking dinner, rocking your little one to sleep, taking a bath, watching TV, necking with your boyfriend or heading down into the basement to grab something from the pantry down there, and it gets to choose the moment it will attack you. Made it safely up those backless stairs without getting an ankle grabbed? That's okay, you still have to go to bed.
This kind of evil has no physical boundaries. You can't stab it or shoot it to get away. You can't kick it in the testicles and gain a few seconds. You can't blind it or maim it. It's untouchable. And it's in your own home. Your safety net.
Do you think the face of horror is changing again? Do fans want something different? Or will gore porn still have a home?
Happy Halloween Week!
May you find your Muse.