More Than Horror: How the Scary Movie Genre is Shifting


Iconic hypnosis scene from the film “Get Out”

Immer Espinal, Staff Writer

When it comes to horror films, one tends to think “the scarier, the better.” No other movie genre can make for such a tense thrill, causing us to jump when something very startling or disturbing happens. But what about when the horror becomes more real than we think? Sometimes, the most terrifying films could be the ones that relate most to our own lives.

Today’s horror movie gems have taken on a deeper meaning than the traditional monster films of old. Consider the way Jorden Peele’s Oscar-winning movie Get Out references slavery and racism, or how Ari Aster’s Hereditary deals with themes of inheritance and family demons, both literally and psychologically.

These contrast starkly from old classic horror films like Frankenstein or Dracula. In Frankenstein, a monster is created by a mad scientist who defies the laws of nature by making a living thing out of dead, human parts. In Dracula, a terrifying demon wreaks havoc on people by sucking the blood of women.

Meanwhile, in Get Out, an African American boyfriend travels home with his Caucasian girlfriend to meet her parents for the first time. At the very beginning of the film the girl assures him that her parents don’t have any issues with their racial divide, but the strange behavior of the black gardener and  maid indicate that there may be more going on than meets the eye. The seemingly ordinary plot at the film’s beginning, and the wild, gory ending do more to disturb an audience than an unrealistic, supernatural creature ever could.

We’ve come a pretty long way from cheap effects and weak stories in the horror film genre. Behind the surface of supernatural hauntings or Twilight Zone-style twists are layers that uncover society’s real problems. Movies that can make a person fear everything in their daily lives have accomplished more than “scary films” that make us scream in the theater.