Horror films are not always good. More importantly, they are not always scary.
It doesn’t matter how much the Hollywood hype machine claims that ‘this summer’s blockbuster will be the scariest thing you will ever see in your entire life’ with some five star review from some celebrity critic-wannabe, the fact of the matter is, it might just be a load of rubbish. You will probably consume Styrofoam popcorn with the bitter disappointment that you have wasted not only two hours of your life but that ten or fifteen quid that could have gone to a decent night out.
And yet, now and again, you do get the decent horror film, the one that was worth the money, the one that was worth staying in that butt-numbingly awful seat for two hours, and the one that was worth staying away from the bars.
So what is it that makes them decent movies? The answer is simple. Technology.
Like everything else, technology evolves and so does horror film and us as an audience. Do we find Hitchcock’s Psycho scary now? Not really. Did we find the ending of Paranormal Activity tense? More than likely. What is the difference here? Technology.
The reason why Psycho is not as scary as say Paranormal Activity could be due to the filming method of the films. Psycho was black and white, made in 1960, and is out-dated therefore it does not encapsulate us with the same amount of tension as Paranormal Activity. The genius behind the latter (this is not taking away from Hitchcock since he is definitely the ‘Master of Suspense’) is that it uses video camera technology, a ‘YouTube effect’ if you like to call it that.
This ‘YouTube effect’ is one which has been adapted into the current sci-fi/horror market with films like Cloverfield and REC as well as the pre-YouTube phenomena The Blair Witch Project. All of which have huge amounts of suspension in their films, because of the ‘YouTube effect’ which provides a certain level of realism to something that is not real or surreal.
Therefore it can be claimed that other aspects of technology and the culture that endorses it provides an element of openness and an element of realism which can be utilised in the modern horror film. The more we know, the more we are aware. We have news coverage 24/7 and all around the world, on our televisions, laptops, tablets and smartphones describing the atrocities that human kind are capable of doing to one another.
Take one of the biggest gross-out movies of all time, The Human Centipede, as an example. Thanks to vast internet research, scientific research and one hell of a sick mind, then we have one of the most sickening films of all time. Needless to say, if this film doesn’t prove the point that technology has not killed the fright, if not added to it, then nothing will.