Haley Huett – A&E Editor
The movie ends and the credits roll. The lights come up in the theater (or you jump off your couch and turn them on before you get too scared). You clutch your keys and look over your shoulder as you walk to your car. At home, you check to make sure the door is locked and that a killer hasn’t taken up residence in your closet. Is there a monster under your bed? Horror films leave audiences frightened long after they have ended. They tap into the distinctly human fear of the other. Ghosts, demons, monsters and murderers enter into familiar spaces to disturb the normalcy and peace the audience expects from them. Summer camps become killing grounds. Suburban homes become hosts for the demonic. However, the ability of horror films to terrorize us extends past the gory murders and the jump scares we see on-screen. Rather, the power of horror films derives from its reflection of societal fears back at the viewer – whether we notice it or not. The types of antagonists featured in scary movies represent the dominant concerns within
society, especially those which plague Americans. Some of the earliest horror movies featured conventional monsters. Vampires, werewolves and other creatures evoke the fear of predators, and the horror films of the early twentieth century built from the corpus of folk tales that capitalized on this fear. In the 1960s, horror shifted from the supernatural to the psychological. Influences from the Cold War and McCarthyism bore a collection of films fascinated by a voyeuristic killer, such as in “Psycho” or “Peeping Tom.” Released in the same decade, “Rosemary’s Baby,” released shortly after the birth control pill became widespread and accessible, explores fears of sexuality and reproductive rights. In 2016, the rise of home invader films represented xenophobia and the fear of foreigners which were reflected in political rhetoric throughout America. One of the most popular sub-genres of horror is the slasher film. It features a single killer that systematically stalks and murders a group of people. Popular in the 1980s, the slasher represents those who have been ostracized by society and tend to correlate with a rise in conservative ideology. The slasher is juxtaposed with the normal members of society that he targets. Considering that many slasher films feature a killer who is motivated by rage and revenge, the
killer exacts revenge against these inheritors of social stability and security. The sub-genre’s origins in the 1980s are linked to Reaganomics and the associated rejection of social responsibility. Classic slasher films include “Halloween,” “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th.” These films helped establish the genre and are responsible for creating the tropes associated with this type of movie. This year, horror has returned to the concept of the slasher. In fact, these classic slasher films have been revitalized and remade by Hollywood in 2022. A remake of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was released in February of 2022 and “Halloween Ends,” part of the “Halloween” franchise, will be released in October. The “Scream” franchise was revisited in 2022, with the release of “Scream 5.” Another slasher film released this year, A24’s “X,” about a group of pornographers who are murdered on a rural farm, will be followed by its prequel “Pearl” in September. The slasher has returned. This year has shown a renewed fascination in the subgenre of horror, dominating the releases this year. Horror is the mirror into society’s greatest and deepest fears. What are we reflecting into it?