1. blood and gore;
2. tons of jump scares;
3. humans as monsters (serial killers, psychopaths, etc...);
4. horror movies centered around ghosts, monsters, and other supernatural phenomenon;
5. existential crisises?
To me something that can be real. Like 3 or maybe 5. For me to be truly scared it almost has to scare me mentally rather than visually like blood and gore. Having some crazed guy run around with a chainsaw isn't real - especially where he crazed guy is able to get up over and over again and nothing brings him down.
A smaller guy like Hannibal Silence of the Lambs that gets into your head is more scary to me than a larger physically overpowering guy that randomly kills teenagers having sex with lots of fake blood and body parts.
Wed 24 Aug, 2016 05:34 am
Yes exactly I used to love to be scared seeing the blood and gore and fakeness of Friday the 13th and similar - now it is so unrealistic that I find those movies boring.
Wed 24 Aug, 2016 06:16 am
Beyond the age of thirteen or so, horror movies not only do not frighten me, I find them excruciatingly boring.
There still some magic (of delusion) in suckering oneself with the suspension of disbelief. Works for horror movies as well as romantic and/or adventure films. Do you take this level of cynicism to every form of fiction?
Gave this some more thought and while suspense is an essential, if not the essential element of making for a scary horror movie, it's not the only important one.
The scariest also introduce some aspect of the other. In this sense, while Aliens from outer-space often populate these movies (one being featured in the title as well as story of, arguably, one of the scariest of films in motion picture history) the alien or other, certainly isn't required to be extraterrestrial to invoke fear and horror.
Before story tellers gave thought to bug-eyed green men from Mars, they filled their tales with strange monsters (trolls, gorgons, vampires, werewolves et al), and strange figures more akin to humans, but fundamentally different enough to just cross over from exotic to disturbing and dangerous: Faeries and all of their kith and kin. Not little tinkerbells riding snails and drinking from buttercups, but the Tuatha de Danann of the Celts, and the Alfar of the Old Norse. The Fair Folk, Hidden People and the like were often depicted in ancients songs and tales as, if not the enemy of Man, at least a significant threat...particularly to children and maidens.
Whether fair or ugly, they all had one thing in common, they were definitely not human. They were at their very core, different, strange and wrong.
This sense of wrongness can lead to a strong sense of fear and loathing that's quite different from the sudden shock delivered after building suspense. The latter is instinct and reaction, with thought limited to fight or flight. The former may also be rooted in instinct, but it requires some contemplation, an understanding or at least sense of what is human and what is not.
The Other doesn't need to be a Martian or a Monster either. When I was a kid, what scared me more than anything were mannequins and dolls. Not so much the objects themselves but the possibility that they might act alive (and after watching a film in which they did, I had nightmares for days afterwards), and introduce a heavy does of wrongness into my world.
Whether or not they have consciously recognized the power of "wrongness" in making a scary movie, a lot of the newer horror movie makers will very often add images that, independent of any build-up of suspense, will have a big impact on their audiences: humans who scurry up walls and ceilings like insects, or whose limbs bend in the wrong direction. Teeth that clack together at impossible rates of speed, or heads that shake into a blur. They're not meant to either lead you to the crescendo of a suspenseful moment, or be the climatic event, they are meant to bother you a whole lot; to build a steady sense of horror throughout the film.
Movies that combine both elements of suspense and wrongness are very effective. Alien is of course one. (Acid for blood, having the sex organ of some half insect/half octopus shoved down a person's throat, and a larval monster bursting out of a person's stomach...what could be more wrong?)
Two others, I think, are the first Silent Hill movie and the first Hellraiser. Both had their share of obligatory blood & gore (although nowhere near the excessive filth of a truly disgusting horror-porn film like Hostel) and their directors didn't forget the doses of suspense, but what set them apart from other films was their remarkably powerful representation of "wrongness" and the "other" in the horrific and bizarre characters that occupied their respective alien domains.