Summer’s Horror Hits – why this year’s low budget and small cast horror hits may usher a new wave of original and well-made horror films.
Summer’s Horror Hits – 2016 – Horror Hits a High Note with a great Summer for Horror films
This was a great summer for the horror film as lower budgeted and small-scale horror films trumped many high action and superhero films. In 2016 Horror films have been more profitable, just as popular and I might add, a bit more distinguishable than many of the other summer Blockbusters of the year. Hello Hollywood, it’s time to put away the CGI mega-FX and get back to basics. This year’s horror hits may usher a new wave of original and well-made horror films. First let’s take a look at the winning films.
The Shallows – Summer officially started with the tense thriller, The Shallows (click for full review) which gave audiences a chilling survival tale on what should have been a beautiful day at the beach. Few characters, one main character, and one scary shark was all it needed to ramp up tension and bring the sea to a climatic boil. While it’s not straight up horror, it can be considered part of the sub-genre of nature-horror or animal horror which has a long reputation of making believable films praised by both horror and non-horror movie goers.
The Conjuring 2 gave us another tale in the lives of the Warren’s, this time in Great Britain. There were several different aspects that provided scares in this something-for-everyone horror fest. The Wicked Nun chilled the screen with her deadpan eyes and aggression. My personal favorite, The Crooked Man, came to life in order to torment the child in the story. However, it started with a family that you cared for early on and that’s what makes the scares scary. Horror has to move beyond the young people partying in the woods format these days to make any lasting impression. The Conjuring films do just that.
Lights Out was just a short film on YouTube less than a year ago. Well, it turned into a big hit over the summer as a dark ghost torments a boy and his broken family. The film was fast-paced and fluid providing nominal scares for the viewer. I would consider the film to be part of a newer sub-genre I like to call action-horror where it’s more about the moment rather than a deeper story. Like a roller coaster, you get the thrills and chills in a fun way, but ultimately it leaves less of a lasting impression. What you do remember is you had excitement along the way. Summers are made for roller coasters and the summer box time audience went for the ride!
Don’t Breathe – While viewing this fantastic horror thriller you may notice yourself manifesting certain physical reactions; holding your breathe, squinting your eyes, yelling out in disgust, and squirming in your seat. DB a genuine cat and mouse, rat in maze thriller, that induces physical reactions in the viewer. It appeals to a larger horror audience and movie goer because it’s not paranormal and it’s more tethered in reality. Seeing the audience react to it in physical ways added to the enjoyment of the film. At times, the theater full of people became so silent, we could hear popcorn popping in the lobby. The main characters are young thieves in the now failed city of Detroit but somehow Alverez manages to get us to like them and root for their survival. The blind man who they are stealing from and ultimately get trapped in the house with, has a stone cold killer instinct that pervades the atmosphere during every second of his screen time. I did have a problem with the very end of the film as it seemed almost tacked on to ensure a sequel. It also added an inconsistency to logic. If you’ve been reading my blog for any time you probably know I didn’t like Alverez’s ED 2013, partly because I’m not a fan of remakes (especially of my idolized horror films) but partly because of illogical inconsistencies in that film that just ruined it for me. Don’t Breathe redeemed Alverez in my eyes for the whole film until this end part. However, the rest of the film was so good it doesn’t deter my overall rating of the film.
10 Cloverfield Lane – Earlier in the year, the small scale horror successes started with 10 Cloverfield Lane. The film had a modest budget (15 million) but to date has now grossed over 100 million with second line sales. The film had few characters (3) and really only one location, but presented a full story of suspense, thrills, and conflict. A young woman is T-boned in a car accident only to wake in a bunker bound and chained. Knowing she can’t fight her capturer she must use her wits and gain his trust and devise an escape. Along the way we get some interesting character study and an ending that flips our opinion of the bad guy…somewhat. Top-notch acting by Goodman and the small cast made this film a winner.
Two other important aspects to this Summers Horror Hits; they are not remakes, and all but one are not sequels. Perhaps we’ll get a bump in new original horror films because of this. Why is all of this important to horror?
Back in 1999 after the success of The Sixth Sense, it ushered a 5-year wave of very good, well written horror films (1999 – 2004) where there was a lot of fresh stories and ideas, new writers and more horror geared toward adult viewers and fans. Let’s hope Hollywood takes this summer’s box office successes as a direction and we could once again have an era of marked creativity in the horror film genre.
What will Summer 2016’s Horror Hits mean for the Horror Movie Genre?
In the period between 1999 and 2004 a wide range of varied horror films were released with new creative talents, ideas, directors and writers adding serious and more intelligent styled films aimed toward older and more discerning horror audiences. Directors and writers such as Zakk Snyder, James Wan, Alexandre Aja, Joe R Lansdale, Eli Roth, Gore Verbinski, Lucky McKee, James Wong, Rupert Wainwright, all got their piece of horror movie fame during this era in the horror genre.
Here are what I consider the best horror films in that time period:
Stir of Echoes (1999)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
Final Destination (2000)
Ginger Snaps (2000)
American Psycho (2000)
Jeepers Creepers (2001)
The Others (2001)
28 Days Later (2002)
Cabin Fever (2002)
Dog Soldiers (2002)
Bubba Ho Tep (2002)
The Ring (2002)
Darkness Falls (2003)
Jeepers Creepers II (2003)
Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003)
Haute Tension (2003)
Wrong Turn (2003)
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
The Grudge (2004)
Shawn of the Dead (2004)
What films did you like from that 5 year period? add them in the comments…