Until several years ago the horror genre of filmmaking seemed down and out. What was once a powerhouse genre for moneymaking had become a dumping ground for remakes and reboots. Horror as a genre began with humble origins. The genre was largely considered to be pulpy and low class. That is, until a few masters of the craft came into the fold and changed the way we view the horror film. The first of the great horror directors in the modern age was Hitchcock but he is by no means the only famous practitioner of horror. Some of the industry’s best filmmakers and best films have stepped out of the horror genre. Filmmakers like John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Clive Barker, Ridley Scott, James Cameron, and even Stanley Kubrick.
A list of top ten horror films has some of the best movies ever made gracing its ranks. Films like “Psycho,” “The Shining,” “Alien,” “The Exorcist,” “Get Out,” “Rosemary’s Baby,” “Eyes Without a Face,” “The Birds” and “Cat People.” That’s not to mention the slasher films and campy horror of the 80’s that rocked the industry and the genre. Films like “The Evil Dead,” “Halloween,” “Re-Animator,” “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Friday the 13th,” “The Fly,” “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” and “Poltergeist” all helped redefine and inform the genre. Then came the decline of the industry.
With the original master no longer working at the pace they used to the genre began to implode under the weight of its own greatness. Every successful slasher film was turned into a franchise that wore fans expectations and desires down. “A Nightmare on Elm Street” has seven sequels and was rebooted in 2010. Another reboot of the franchise is planned. “Friday the 13th” has nine sequels and has been remade and will soon be rebooted. “Halloween” has eight sequels and was rebooted by Rob Zombie into a new franchise. “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is the reboot champion having been rebooted three times, most recently in 2017 with the new film “Leatherface.”
Then there were the American horror remakes of “Ju-on” as “The Grudge,” “Ringu” as “The Ring.” From there came torture porn. “Saw” and “Hostel” sprung up in a truly gory fashion. “Hostel” had two sequels that ended in 2011 but “Saw” had eight sequels, each worse than the one before it is culminating in the 2017 release of “Jigsaw.”
Horror had been in the trenches with little to no innovation for over 20 years until very recently. In recent years a new crop of well-made and original horror films has sprung up to fill in the void. Eli Roth is one such filmmaker whose ingenuity led to the Hostel franchise and several other box office successes Another of these filmmakers is James Wan whose successful franchises Saw, The Conjuring and Insidious lead him right into the arms of the Fast and Furious Franchise.
Other notable films in the upturn in the genre are Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” “It Follows,” “Let the Right One In,” “The Witch,” “Green Room,” “28 Days Later,” “28 Weeks Later” and “Zombieland.” Hopefully, horror films continue on this new trajectory and attempt to regain some of their former glory.