Formulaic Frights: Are Horror Movies Really Repetitive and Old?

Above is a still from the praised horror film, Hereditary.

Annabella Rivera

Above is a still from the praised horror film, “Hereditary”.

Annabella Rivera, Staff Writer

Whether they like them or not, everyone has seen a horror movie at least once in their lives. If you begin a trend of watching horror movies, you start to notice a type of formulaic aspect to them. Most people’s complaint about horror movies, besides the fact that they are made to scare you, is that they slightly tend to repeat themselves.

While that may be true, there are still hidden gems that do the genre justice. For example, directors such as Ari Aster who directed “Hereditary” and Robert Eggers who directed “The Witch”, composed two amazing movies that make a good example of individuality in the horror movie industry. Good horror movies are not always hidden. For example, the entire “Conjuring Universe” is an absolutely amazing series that is simultaneously mainstream, taking cliche subplots, like a ghost haunting a house, and turning it into immersive and well- produced horror movies. Horror is also one of the most creative genres to date and it serves as a creative outlet for directors. While formulaic horror exists, there are a variety of ways to break out of that trend.

It would be absurd to say that good horror movies are no longer being produced. While an abundance of horror movies premiering in theaters may seem repetitive and even a lazy attempt at a money-grab, there are masterpieces among them. For example, “Hereditary”  has one of the most creative storylines of the entire genre. The storyline is complex to a point where a re-watch is necessary to fully grasp the sequence of events and why they occurred. It would be described as a storyline that although slow in pace in the beginning, really begins to reveal lingering questions in the middle and close up loopholes towards the end in a fast-paced manner. As opposed to other horror films where the storyline seems to slack throughout the entirety of the movie, with an abundance of suspense moments that lead to jump scares varied throughout, this is a perfect example of looking close enough to new releases to find a genuinely good pick.

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I think that horror movies are getting more repetitive, but I do not think that that stereotype can be applied to all horror movies”

— senior Madison Abraham

While mainstream horror movies do not compare to lesser known films, they are worth the mention. Who’s to say your everyday horror movie does not have any special elements? The “Conjuring Universe” is a series of connected horror movies that are cliche at first glance but upon inspection contain many unique aspects that make the series so great and deserving of praise. For example, the most frequently praised film of the series is “Annabelle Comes Home”, in which the majority of the movie occurs in one setting, the protagonist’s house. Even though the setting is limited, it is arguably the most immersive and entertaining of the “Annabelle” series. This is because the film has a way of keeping a quality pace. They achieve this because, in the movie, there is a room filled with objects that the owners (paranormal investigators) collected over the years. Throughout the film, backstories of multiple objects are revealed, continuously bringing in multiple histories of each object, making you want to uncover more. The objects’ storylines were a creative element in this film, going to show that finding a good horror movie today is not as difficult as people make it out to be.

Some might say that good horror movies stopped releasing after the 1990s. Although everyone is entitled  to their opinion, you also cannot deny the fact that there are still creative directors, screenwriters, producers, and more working behind horror movies making them great. The combination of these different people can create a truly unique horror film. With the directors coming up with the ideas and the screenwriters and producers allowing it to come to life, you cannot put down the work of these people just because you believe that all horror movies are simultaneously repetitive. Ignore the money-grabbing films and look at the horror movies with clear effort and creativity put into them, because they still exist.

“Personally, I love horror movies and, even if they do get repetitive, I do not mind, with the reason being that I can appreciate a good scare,” freshman Keren Freire said.

Horror is a genre that enables the most creative intake and complexity. There is no possible manner to limit creativity when it comes to horror and that is what makes it meritorious. Like storylines, jump-scares are something directors could potentially get creative with. For example, in “Hereditary”, there would be the typical building up suspense but instead of building it up to a jump-scare, the director built it up and left it there. What the director did to build up to a jump-scare was, well, nothing. He would place a jump-scare in the most unexpected moments, just when the atmosphere was the most tranquil. For example, he placed one as the viewer was simply observing the protagonist drive. A serene scene interrupted by a loud noise that caused the driver, along with the audience, to jump. This is a quality example of getting creative with your project and breaking out of the horror movie trend.

All hope is not lost for modern day horror movies. There are still outstanding actors and crews working on even better horror. We have directors that break out of the horror movie loop and get creative, proving that is not accurate for all films of horror. Lesser known horror films are praised for their uniqueness, but just like small-time horror movies, mainstream films can also have elements of individuality that bring hope to the horror community. To this day, magnificent horror movies are being released and there seems to be no scarcity of them, or has there been a shortage of  talent found behind the scenes that make these movies what they are. The next time a horror movie is released in theaters, give it a chance; you will never know when you might discover a quality horror film that can be added to your favorites.