Horror junkies seek thrill in chilling new releases


Alekya Raghavan | Staff Writer

Big box office horror movies are coming back from the dead.  

Through something of a renaissance, the last decade has witnessed a transformation in the way horror movies are being produced and received. Of the top five grossing horror movies of all time, two were released within the last year, while the other three are from 1972, 1999, and 2000.

Of these, the fifth biggest movie, A Quiet Place, was released in the U.S. on April 6 and has made over $244.8 million worldwide (with a $154.6 million domestic total) in just twenty days. The film stars husband-and-wife duo John Krasinski and Emily Blunt and has been described by The Guardian as a “nerve-shredding attack on the senses”.

A Quiet Place is only one in a growing line of horror movies dominating at the box office in recent years. The New York Times dubbed 2017 “the biggest year in horror history” after the consecutive successes that were Get Out and It, both of which are in talks for sequels.

Freshman Anna Chen said the renewed horror genre tends to center around psychological horror rather than ghost stories or monster movies.  

“Newer movies are taking newer concepts and focusing on psychological horror,” Chen said. “There’s a movie called Mother that left a lot of questions and was more about the psychological [aspect]. And that’s how it differs from some of the older movies, which were more focused on monsters and all that.”

According to Psychology Today, there are three factors that make horror movies so appealing to an audience: tension, relevance and unrealism.

The tension factor exploits the age-old human experience of adrenaline rushes. Thrill-seeking has long since been at the core of true to their word horror films. Terror, shock, mystery and gore create a much sought-after natural high that people jump off airplanes to experience.

The impractical nature of the genre is ultimately what keeps it alive. Audiences, no matter how real a scene may seem, are able to psychologically distance themselves from what is happening on-screen.

But relevance is what makes the renewed horror genre so popular today. Writer and director Jordan Peele used Get Out to comment on racism and white supremacy, which, amongst the shocking twists and impenetrable tensions, were the aspects of the movie that made it so appealing because of how they resonate with the current political and social climate.

While not all movies comment on some social issue, more and more are embedding elements of reality into their story lines. Senior Olivia Geyer said the relatable family element of A Quiet Place makes the movie scarier because of its plausibility.

“Growing up, [Krasinski] hated horror movies; that’s kind of the same thing for me,” Geyer said. “And because I can relate to that, it makes the director and the movie more appealing. The core ideal of family in a horror movie is so rare. You see the [family’s] dysfunctionality and their hardships as relatable to your own family. That could be my little brother, my little sister and that makes it ten times scarier.”

While some horror aficionados limit their appreciation for the genre to movie marathons, others, like It fan junior Rachel Laughlin, take it further. Andy Muschietti’s It takes first place as the highest grossing horror movie of all time and is adapted from Stephen King’s 1986 novel of the same name. Laughlin recreated the Pennywise look through costume.

“I think people dress up in costumes because they love seeing their favorite characters come to life,” Laughlin said. “It’s a very good way to honor the character and show appreciation [for the franchise]. I think, for example, Stephen King would love to see people dressing up as the characters he created.”

Junior Leah Markvan said that the popularity of horror movies can be attributed to one simple fact: they’re entertaining.

“People like being scared,” Markvan said. “It’s comparable to watching a comedy because you want to laugh; you watch horror movies because you like being scared.”