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Film critics and their rocky relationship with the horror genre

Film critics and their rocky relationship with the horror genre

Film critics and their rocky relationship with the horror genre
October 12
17:03 2021

As we get closer to Halloween, horror movies will be on an endless loop, and many will rediscover their love for the genre. Horror movies, and the horror genre as a whole, is a great section of the entertainment industry, but not a lot of people seem to think so. “Halloween Kills” is weeks away from coming out, and some early reviews have me scratching my head a bit. Obviously, the movie is not out so I won’t use the newest slasher as an example, but I have always been intrigued and enraged by the way the horror genre is treated by critics. There is no better time to talk about this recurring theme than the spookiest of seasons, and there is nothing quite as spooky as critics bashing things they tend to know nothing about.

None of us have seen “Halloween Kills” yet, but some of us have seen Owen Gleiberman’s review of the film. In the review, Gleiberman states the original “Halloween” is just a knockoff of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.” This is where a bit of disrespect starts to seep through the writing. Grouping two of the most popular horror movies together, and then comparing them when they could not be more different from one another shows some critics are not as informed as others are when it comes to the horror genre. A quick google search would have shown how director John Carpenter was influenced by films like “Black Christmas” and “Deep Red.” There is nothing wrong with disliking the horror genre, but reviewing a singular horror movie just to take shots at the entire horror genre is not the way to go about it. Even if you aren’t the biggest horror fan, the differences between “Halloween” and “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” are readily apparent, and show a lack of research on the critic’s end.

These strong feelings towards the genre may come from some common misconceptions. A lot of people give horror movies a bad reputation because they are seen as too violent, and encourage scenes involving gore to be a spectacle. Applauding gore in horror movies often comes from appreciating special effects. Movies like “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Friday the 13th” are extremely goofy by modern standards and horror fans watch those movies to enjoy some amazing practical effects. I have noticed violence is unacceptable in horror movies, but it is okay when movies like “Deadpool” are violent because it’s made by Marvel and Ryan Reynolds sure is funny.

The horror genre is always changing, and movies like “Midsommar” and “The Lighthouse” have shown how horror can be taken seriously. These arthouse horror films are meant to appeal to critics, and they sometimes do. A lot of modern horror films have received praise, but when you get the critic stamp of approval, it means you get to face the final boss: award season. The Oscars are notorious for leaving out horror movies when it is time to hand out all the trophies. Whether it be Toni Collette not even receiving a nomination for “Hereditary” in 2018, or “The Silence of the Lambs” being the only horror film to win Best Picture, there seems to be a common theme when award season rolls around. 18 horror movies have won an Academy Award, and the award show has been around for almost 93 years. I will never understand why the entertainment industry is so scared of the horror genre, pun intended.

Am I being a little territorial? Probably. Everyone is obviously allowed to have their own opinion, but it is no coincidence this happens to the horror genre on a weekly basis. Regardless of a critic score or an Oscar win, the horror community will always be one of the nicest fandoms to exist. It is a bit ironic the fandom revolving around bruting killers is also the one with the most acceptance and warmth, but those are the same reasons the horror community is so great.

Featured Illustration by Pooja Patel

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Jaden Oberkrom

Jaden Oberkrom

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