North Texas Daily

Let’s talk about ‘elevated horror’

Let’s talk about ‘elevated horror’

Let’s talk about ‘elevated horror’
February 22
14:00 2022

Sooner or later people will have to admit they like the horror genre. For the last decade, we have seen the horror genre go through an abundance of changes. Multiple directors have made names for themselves, and new trends have become cemented in the genre forever. One of those trends has picked up the name “elevated horror,” and it has been one of the most damaging things to happen to horror in a very long time.

“Elevated horror” is essentially a subgenre which relies on dramatic elements and overarching themes, instead of your popular gore fests and slasher scares. Some names associated with the term include directors like Ari Aster and Robert Eggers, with both of their filmographies consisting of movies with blanks for the audience to fill in themselves. Let me be extremely clear, I am a huge fan of both Aster’s and Eggers’ work. The best part of being a horror fan is promoting all the different types of horror out there. The genre is extremely diverse, with something for everyone to enjoy. 

What is concerning is the idea of separating a part of the genre from itself, and turning it into some elitist way to enjoy horror. Insisting certain areas of the genre hold more artistic integrity than others is already extremely pretentious, not to mention how dismissive it is to filmmakers who want to make something like a fun slasher for fans of horror to enjoy. The term was made to put other horror films down, by insisting something like “Freaky” could never be on the same level or as thought-provoking as “Midsommar.”

I love how movies can make people think. It may not be for everyone, but I love how movies like “Get Out” and “Hereditary” have conventional scares and yet also encourage viewers to view the world in a different way through social commentary. Right before this new wave of horror took the world by storm, there was exhaustion from the same type of horror movie being made over and over again. This challenged directors to raise the bar, and they absolutely did. It’s hard to understand why it is so hard to appreciate all levels of horror. The film would likely get an Oscar nomination if it fits in the “elevated horror” category, but even then most of those movies might not even get the nod.

In some ways, it feels like people are trying to make an excuse for themselves to like horror movies. The horror genre is a beautiful place for appreciation and representation, but when people dismiss certain films because they’re not “elevated horror,” we start to enter the territory of toxic fandoms. I’ve had amazing experiences being in the horror community — how welcoming they are to different opinions and takes that people may not agree with. However, if you want to get one giant eye roll out of someone, just bring up “elevated horror.”

So what’s the solution? Just love the horror genre for what it is. These directors did what they could to raise the bar and create a new world full of potential for what horror can be, so maybe you as a viewer could raise your own bar and explore some different subgenres and appreciate them. There are tons of horror films worthy of praise and it is a shame to regulate yourself to a subgenre that is supposedly better than the others. I try my best to explore as many subgenres of horror as possible, and a large chunk of it is not made for me at all. It just makes appreciating those films I am fond of so much easier. Just appreciate all levels of the genre, and most importantly, watch more horror movies.

Featured Illustration by J. Robynn Aviles

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Jaden Oberkrom

Jaden Oberkrom

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