[Something More]

Beheading as an Art

Midsommar Rites

I get the hate for Hereditary. I do. I understand that in a world where horror has been affected by short attention spans and spoon-fed plots, that a film which builds tension and characters and does not necessarily answer all your questions, is going to be attacked. Hereditary is that film. It, like Mandy, divided audiences, and like Mandy, I thought it was damn brilliant. With Midsommar coming out, I’ve been reminded of how much some horror fans fear anything different.

The thing I always wondered about when it comes to the Hereditary detractors is: What do you want in a horror film? Do you want quick, cheap jump scares; an onion-skin-thin plot; throwaway characters; and little else? Or do you want something that gets you emotionally invested, has a plot that sticks with you, and really makes you think? If you want the former, there are plenty of films in the genre that do that. In fact, critics have been using those films in order to insult the genre and its fans for years. Me? I want more.

The best horror has always been the stuff I had some kind of personal stake in. I cared about the characters. I wanted to know where the story was going. I thought about the film after its conclusion. I desire something original, intelligent, and engaging. Any fool with a camera and a score can cause an audience to jump. It takes a real artist to make something that will keep a person thinking about what they saw for days after. Critics, incidentally, often tend to love those types of horror films.

The public at large has a fairly poor perception of horror, and while you may think that does not matter, it actually does when it comes to future horror films. When critics and the public attack the genre we love, we end up eventually hitting a dry spell of horror films, something you know if you have been around long enough. Horror movies become a joke and lose money for the studios, and then those same studios end up not making many at all. When that sort of thing happens we lose the power to inspire future filmmakers.

Luckily, that glut usually ends when some fairly exciting and original horror films hit the screens (usually by sheer luck more than anything else). We are in that period right now with things like Hereditary. When horror becomes critically-acclaimed we not only benefit from better movies, but the genre’s fan base grows and it inspires future creators. We will not see the benefits from this current wave of horror for another twenty years, but that does not mean we should not celebrate it now.

I enjoy some mindless entertainment just as much as the next person, but I realize there is more to horror. Horror can be an exciting, viable artistic statement in the right hands. Give me something like Hereditary, which makes me proud to be a horror fan, over something like a yet another Scream sequel any day. I want works that will push the boundaries, not give the same old scares we have become used to. There’s nothing wrong with familiarity in small doses, but horror, more than any other genre, should be all about exploring uncharted territories.

So why did you hate Hereditary again?

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