A new year means a new batch of horror movies will be making the rounds. You’ll be tempted by the good, the bad and the ugly, and at times it might be hard to know which releases are worth seeing. Most films in the genre are mere photocopies of overused formulas, so if you go in blind, chances are it’s going to suck.
If you’re the kind of person who doesn’t want to know too much before entering the theater, there’s still a way to better your chances of paying for an enjoyable flick. All you need to do is watch the trailer
The easiest thing to look out for is the celebrity status of the movie. Are you merely excited because a specific actor is attached to the project? This is a common tool used by Hollywood to make up for weak writing. Audiences follow familiar faces similar to how consumers are more comfortable with products they constantly see on TV.
A recent example of this is The Forest, staring Natalie Dormer.
The promotion for this movie focused almost entirely on the actress, probably in an attempt to rein in Game of Thrones fans. It currently has an 11% on Rotten Tomatoes. What makes this situation happen over and over again is that casting directors are so focused on star power that they forget to analyze whether an actor can establish a slow progression into fear. Dormer, for instance, puts on too dramatic of a face to be believable.
Not all horror films with A-listers are unwatchable, but it’s important to ask yourself why they were given the role.
Tropes, the second thing you should look out for, are easy to register because we see them all the time. A creepy rocking chair, nursery rhymes sung by children, kids who look like they were raised by Lucifer himself. If the creepiest moments of a piece have been done over and over again, it stops being scary.
What upcoming movie is a perfect example of this?
I’ve been laughing ever since I saw the trailer for The Boy a few months ago. I thought we were over the whole doll thing but apparently not. However, tropes aren’t always the centerpiece of a horror film. When watching a trailer, keep your eyes open for what’s being presented as “scary.”
If you’ve seen the trailer and it doesn’t seem to rely on star power or overdone scare tactics but you still aren’t sure whether you should check it out, there’s one more aspect to look out for, and it isn’t as easy to spot as the others.
What makes a horror film forgettable is when it’s too focused on being a horror film. If you walk onto a set with the sole purpose of producing something that will terrifying your audience, you’ve already dedicated yourself to making a movie that will be defined by its inability to stand out. Without a strong foundation in story and character, your film will remain hollow.
With something like Amityville: The Awakening, I can’t bring myself to care about these people, and thus I don’t care about what happens to them. Their backstory of moving around is a sad excuse for a scene setter and establishment of teenage angst. These characters could be anybody. When all that matters is that something happens to the people in your story, it’s sure to be a film to avoid.
Now, if you prefer to not watch trailers before giving a movie a shot, that works too. Just don’t I say I didn’t warn ya.
Don’t forget to follow me on social media!