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The Horrenaissance

Updated: Oct 29, 2020

Happy Thursday!

They say that people hold special consideration for the movies made during their childhoods. Although I'm not entirely sure who "they" are, they're definitely wrong when it comes to the Horror genre. Sure, I can recite every line from the speech in Independence Day but you don't often hear me gassing up the Final Destination films.

That's not to say there aren't a few diamonds in the rough. The Blair Witch Project and The Ring are two personal exceptions. Unfortunately, Blair Witch tends to be pretty divisive because not a lot happens other than... vertigo induced nausea.

me after watching that movie

And The Ring was only really scary because my parents finally let me stay up late and watch TV with them. I'm pretty sure it may have been punishment for being an annoying asshole.

this conniving little bastard deserved it

When people think about the greatest horror films of all time they quickly resort to the 70's and 80's. In these decades people were bombarded with hit after hit. 73' brought us The Exorcist, 74' Texas Chainsaw, 76' The Omen, 78' Halloween, 79' Alien and The Amityville Horror, 80' The Shining and Friday The 13th, 81' American Werewolf in London, 82' The Thing, 84' Nightmare on Elm Street, 86' The Fly. For the first time since the last Cholera Outbreak, society collectively shat their pants for over 10 years.

Oh no...

...that might have just been cholera

After over a decade of amazing films, horror fans were becoming spoiled without even knowing it. Then the 90's came. Most of the innovation and inspiration from filmmakers like John Carpenter, and Stanley Kubrick had dissipated. Again there were a few notable exceptions, like 91's Silence of the Lambs, and movies that garnered cult followings like 97's Event Horizon. Also who could forget about such classics as the 98's Psycho remake starring Vince Vaughn.

I still think the mustache might've been a bit too far

As we somehow managed to survive Y2K, finding a good horror film was like finding a hay in a needlestack. We had been force fed crap horror for about as long a period as the horror masterpieces lasted. I can't really blame the studios for this. At the end of the day, speaking as a dumb man that buys tickets to even the worst horror movies, there was no financial incentive to change up the formula.

Then something strange happened. There was a return to form in regard to art and vision for horror. A renaissance if you will. The scholars (in my brain) frequently debate when this started, but my general consensus is that it may have began with the film Paranormal Activity.

There's a lot of hate tied to this film due to it's found footage gimmick, but I'd wager that anyone that doesn't find it scary didn't see it in theaters. Either that or they're filthy liars. Uncharacteristically of the crap horror that came before it, the movie is almost completely devoid of jump-scares and takes a step back. It lets you deal with the ramifications of what you're watching without providing an emotional release.

The best example of this I can provide occurs at the very end of the film. When the screen cuts to black it provides bogus information regarding the whereabouts of the fictional Katie. Then, in the place of credits, there's nothing. The theater lights never rose because the film actually had a few minutes of black caked into it. There was no sense of completion, and made you believe that the film was still going on. I recall my friend and I being afraid to stand from our seats for a few minutes until we finally sprinted for the exit.

The slow and stressful tactics of Paranormal have been present in the best horror films of the last 10 years. Furthermore there is a distinct lack of closure that has become a Horrenaissance staple.

happy birthday, grandma!

By the year 2010 it was going mainstream. Studios had seen the success of Paranormal and realized there was money in cheap yet effective horror stories. Blumhouse gave the greenlight to a film titled Insidious. They attached director James Wan, who has sense become the big budget horror guru behind The Conjuring universe.

Insidious proved that you can take all of the great things about Paranormal Activity, (Great Story, Extreme Stress, No Closure) and combine them with cheap horror tricks (Jump Scares). Not only could it be done, but it also results in a movie that is massively entertaining with wide appeal to both horror snobs and general audiences.

In 2012 A24 Studios was founded. I don't think there exists a studio with higher esteem in my mind. They take chances on scripts that are absolutely phenomenal. 2 of this weeks 8 movies (The Witch and Hereditary) happen to be produced by A24. If I had my way, there would have been another in The Blackcoats Daughter but life's not all about me unfortunately.

Damn, that joke was FIRE

2015's The Witch is sort of like a Pilgrims fever dream. Tons of people are all about this movie, but I harbor a distaste for it. To be clear, it does have all the aspects of a Horrenaissance film, but I had trouble putting myself in that mindset. Still, the amount of research it took to even attempt making scenery, props, dialogue, and horror period accurate is ABSURD. I've just been so spoiled with horror films over the past 10 years that this one lags behind the others.

when you realize 2025 - 2040 will have crap horror movies and climate disasters

2018's Hereditary is without a doubt the scariest movie I have EVER seen in my life. To me it's leagues ahead of any of the classics from the 70's and 80's. I believe it to be the culmination of Horrenaissance films (so far - hopefully). With this and last year's Midsommar I sincerely hope director Arri Aster sticks with horror for a long time. The man is a true visionary.

when none of you ever vote for Foreign Movies

2014's The Babadook is the first of our foreign films this week. It comes without the added burden of reading subtitles (assuming you can understand Australian Accents). Babadook is quite like Hereditary in that it explores the paranormal as a metaphor for extreme emotional distress. Although not entirely my cup of tea, it does feature some rather eerie moments indictive of Horenniassance films.

Vote for the precious. We wants it. We needs it

2016's South Korean film The Wailing happens to be the only effin movie on this list I haven't seen. And you know what, screw it. I'm sure you haven't seen it either. Don't @ me. It's sitting pretty at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes, and I've never heard a bad word uttered about it. This marks the 5th time I've tried to get you all to vote for this movie.

"We need you to yawn, and try to hit that nail in with your back"

2014's It Follows was the second inspiration for this list. It is utterly terrifying and timeless. It explores an age old anxiety that is unspecific to any time period and the production design follows suit. At some moments characters hold smartphones, in others they drive vintage cars. Largely it's a meta commentary on horror films, akin to a movie like Scream, but with none of the humor and more of the terror.

This woman deserves an Oscar for this gif

2019's Us is Jordan Peele's second foray into the horror genre. In it he masterfully continues his anxiety fueled commentary on US social issues. While Get Out is amazing in it's own right, I feel that the fan theories and additional dialogue created by this film make it the standout choice. Jordan Peele's new horror portfolio is proof that sometimes what is most needed to bring innovation into a genre is a voice from a different perspective.

Anything but the Turkey Baster

2016's Don't Breathe represents a different kind of horror movie than the others. For one it's not paranormal, which puts it at a lower standing to me already. But as we've seen before that doesn't mean they shouldn't be included here. Okay, sure, there's some closure in there, and fine, it doesn't use story to explore anxieties or emotion. It is, however, a masterclass in making the audience anxious for it's characters.

This leads me to my final point. To quote Andy Bernard from the office, "I wish there was a way to tell you were in the good old days before you left them". Horror fans of the 70's and 80's never recognized the amazing time they were in, and therefore couldn't appreciate it fully. Quite like the 90's and 2000's I believe crap horror shall eventually return with a vengeance. Try to enjoy this time while it lasts! These horror films will be looked at as the classics when we grow older... assuming we don't........ melt...................... the planet.

the world's on fire

how 'bout yours

Make sure to vote for this weeks movie:

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