What is ‘Horror’ to You?
The other day on Facebook someone said, Stir of Echoes wouldn’t be considered a horror film. Really? It has a vengeful spirit/ghost, it has some nasty deaths, it has creepy atmosphere… it certainly ain’t a drama. It is written smarter and with more complexity than your average horror genre flick, thanks to the pen of Richard Matheson, but I would still consider it horror.
You’re Next is more of a suspense/thriller film than horror, but I feel if someone dies in a nasty way and didn‘t deserve it, it is pretty horrible and therefore considered horror. So my definition of horror is in the broad sense. Of course, even though Ghost had a supernatural element to it, I wouldn’t consider that film horror. Nor would I consider all of the ‘romance with ghosts’ novels and stories that have inundated Amazon.com lately, to be horror. But that’s just me. If you want to consider them horror be my guest, I won’t argue.
My definition of horror is:
‘a book, film, or story that raises your defense mechanism, makes you nervous, edgy, frightened, or scared with the threat of danger, death, and even damnation, at the hands of an individual or thing, above and beyond the conventions of normalcy.’
I wouldn’t consider a Tom Clancy novel horror, even though it raises your defense mechanism, and includes the threat of danger/death. If you are in the mob, or if you cross the mob and get shot for it – that is normal for that lifestyle and not considered horror. Likewise, if we are following a detective who is investigating/hunting a serial killer, that is somewhat normal for what they do and would most likely be considered a thriller or crime drama.
In certain instances a thriller can cross over into the horror genre, like in Se7en and Silence of the Lambs. Serial killer films can be considered horror if we are up close and intimate with the killer’s actions – if we can actually experience the horror felt by their victims. They create a psychological horror atmosphere – an atmosphere of horror within your mind. The Human Centipede and Maniac are definitely horror under this aspect. Jaws can also be considered horror under this parameter.
I would consider most stories with a ghost, spirit or a supernatural entity to be horror. I would also consider films with a psychological terror aspect to be horror. Of course, Horror has many sub-genres. I will have a post about sub-genres in the near future.
But until then, What is horror to you?
What are your feelings on what makes a good horror story?
What films are considered horror that you wouldn’t consider horror?
– and visa-versa –
What films are not considered horror that you would classify as horror?