Years ago when The Exorcist came out, it was of course classified as a horror movie, and people enjoyed it. I think partly because not many movies featured a young girl becoming possessed by a demon.
Another one that I have personally watched, The Shining. Though it was a poor adaptation of Stephen King’s novel, supposedly scared the crap out of people. Not that I can blame anyone for being scared watching a fully grown, rather insane ax-wielding man chase a young boy through a maze.
And yes, The Exorcist had some intense creepy parts.
What I wonder, is if the elements that make a horror movie scary, have changed over the years?
People were scared watching The Exorcist because, at that time, that was a fear to people. Whereas, when I watched it, sure it was creepy but not one bit of it was “scary” to me.
Maybe because of the handful or more of “ghost hunting” shows, where at least once a season or more someone is “possessed” by a spirit or in worst-case scenarios, a demon.
When I watched The Shining, well, can’t say I’ve watched it more than once or twice. Yes, the supernatural effect is present as we watch Jack slowly become more and more affected by the Hotel. Or possibly he acknowledges it more as the movie goes on. But, while absolutely having its creepy and gory moments, it's not quite what I’d call scary. Well, maybe I should watch it again, as I may have fallen asleep the first two times.
Some people say that today’s horror movies are all jump scares and it’s as if the producers and such are trying to do as many of these jump scares as possible. Which, I admit, is quite true. Here, however, is why I think they don’t have much other choices.
In today’s TV world, fictional crime shows are at an all-time high, not to mention the action movies and shows like Game of Thrones (which is awesome) where people are being stabbed and burned and their throats slit, etc., almost every episode.
So, while a decade or so ago, dead bodies, blood on the walls, and people having been mutilated would work as a scare factor. For a lot of the horror movie audience today, those things are in our TV shows we watch all the time. So, we’re rather desensitized to that stuff and I can’t say that would work as a horror movie much now.
I’ve read a review on IT (have not yet watched it) that said movies like The Conjuring series (Conjuring 1 &2 and Annabelle, plus Annabelle: Creation) are filled with unexciting jump scares crammed into an hour and a half long film.
Now, I myself love these movies. Because I love the supernatural category of haunted dolls, possessions, and maybe a ghost in the film. I love waiting to see if that sound we’re hearing will be a spirit or someone moving boxes. I love that they’ve added “demons” into the Annabelle movies because they look creepy as hell. And of course, there’s an occasional gore factor, but very little.
I’ve watched all of these movies, multiple times in a theatre, and I can say that every time there’s at least one person who screams at all the jump scares. Sometimes there are multiple people, and once or twice someone whimpering throughout every possible scary scene.
So, personally, I think when it comes to horror movies, it might depend on what you find scary. For me, The Conjuring and Annabelle movies are my favorites. For some, they love zombie movies. Others might like the thrill rides of The Call, or they need Halloween.
I shouldn’t forget lights out in this list. I wouldn’t say it was incredibly scary, but I do know people who had to sleep with the lights on after watching it at night.
I think today that horror movies have changed because they have to. People don’t find movies like The Shining or The Exorcist scary anymore, and gore has become something that’s just gross rather than scary.
Today, jump scares, haunted dolls/houses, sinister spirits, or demons have become a trademark of horror/scary movies because they work on the younger audience. Producers and such might even be aiming for the creepy factor more because it works. I mean I love the Conjuring and Annabelle movies, but I don’t find them so much scary, as creepy as hell. But I did have to take some melatonin on the nights after watching them.
So that’s my take on the topic. Horror movies have changed because the audience has. Yes, some movies do this better than others and some people won’t find these movies scary at all. But, we all have our own version of scary as it is.