A question that has plagued writers, directors, producers and even stars within the horror community for years: What do fans of the genre really want to see?
It is a rather broad question seeing as there are so many sub-genres within the horror genre itself. From campy movies, with red paint for blood, through to supernatural thrillers, that leaves you questioning the existence of the paranormal universe, to slashers, that create some of the most iconic horror movie villains of all time, to jaw-dropping, vomit-inducing, gut-wrenching torture films that leave audiences covering their eyes and screaming for their lives.
The hardest part with this topic is that horror movies fans, like all cinema goers, are unique in their tastes. Millions of people enjoyed the Paranormal Activity movies, where as I have to fake interest every time I write about it simply because I thought they were as boring as watching paint dry. I love the original Halloween movie from 1978, but quite a few of my friends prefer to watch the 2007 remake, citing that they were able to connect more with that version as opposed to the original.
So what do horror movie fans really want?
For the purpose of understanding this topic, I took to Twitter to ask my followers what they really like about horror movies. Director/Producer/Writer James Cullen Bressack (the man behind such movies as MY PURE JOY and more recently HATE CRIME) simply said a good story and compelling characters are what a movie needs in order to gain his complete attention.
James’ words were echoed by many of my followers with one even stating that he wanted to see, quote, “Fresh stories. Gore is wonderful but without a compelling storyline it’s just over the top for the sake of being shocking.”
I have to agree with their statements. When it comes to horror movies I prefer something that is a combination of blood, guts and gore and suspense. But if the movie doesn’t contain believability or believable characters, then I’m not interested in watching it. A balance between shocks and genuine scares is a fine line that is only cemented in a handful of films.
I’ve stated once before that realism is the key to creating genuine scares and a storyline that has audience truly disturbed. But realism is also needed when creating the characters. Superficial characters work well in campy horror movies, because audiences aren’t expecting something serious. They’re expecting over acting, terrible effects and cheesy one-liners.
So what do I really want in a horror movie?
Believable characters for starters. And by believable I mean intelligent, articulate, serious, and humorous. I’m basically after someone I can relate too. Characters that constantly curse and use foul language is not something I desire to see. If I want to witness that, I’ll jump on a nearby train. I’m looking for a serious, believable storyline that injects humor that can slip under the radar if need be. As I’ve stated previously, I’m a slashers girl, so give me a killer with a grudge who hides in the shadows until the opportune time. Does the killer need a back story and/or motive? No. Things are a lot scarier when you have no motive, no rhyme or reason for being stalked. Give me a movie with a chilling music score that ups the suspense used by great directors such as Alfred Hitchcock and John Carpenter. Give me blood, just not copious amounts to the point that it becomes gut-wrenching. And give me an acceptable body count. Don’t try to see how many people you can off in the space of ninety minutes. That’s overkill. I feel that a maximum body count without losing the plot, or the feel, of the film is between five and eight. The only person who should have more victims than that each film is Jason Voorhees because that’s what we’ve come to expect from him.
I’m sure there are many readers that will disagree with me on what I’ve just said, but that’s the beauty of the horror genre. Our tastes are all unique. But regardless if you’re a fan of campy horror like SLEEPAWAY CAMP or 2001 MANIACS, or prefer something more serious like WOLF CREEK or SESSION 9, one thing remains the same; without a good storyline to suck you in and characters that you can relate to, the movie is a bust.
Let me know what you think. What do you REALLY want in a horror movie?