When I was little, my mom and I would frequently visit a local bookstore whenever she dragged me along on her errands. I remember this store fondly, and how I would always pick out my books quickly in order to have enough time to run to the back and peek at the Stephen King novels I would never be allowed to take home. Remembering these trips reminds me of how early I was drawn to the horror genre. But why?
This was never a question I was able to answer when my parents tried to keep me from watching the scary movies I wanted to watch. What is it about the horror genre that is so intriguing to me, and why is it so intensely avoided by others? While accepting that some people simply have different tastes in the media they consume, I’ve also come to the understanding that not everyone sees the beauty in creating horror.
From my perspective, the art of horror is in the details. Horror films specifically have an ability to create hidden story lines amidst the thrill and mystery of the main attractions. Director Stanley Kubrick is known for intertwining these kinds of details in his works. The 1980 film depiction of Stephen King’s, “The Shining,” is an infamous example of this.
Though author, King, and director, Kubrick, did not exactly agree on the film’s adaptation, it is no secret that both the novel and movie are classics within their respective horror realms. Kubrick set the standard for future horror films with this work, partially due to his attention to detail throughout the full two hours and 26 minutes.
From set design, to camera angles, to sound production, to countless takes of each individual scene, Kubrick aimed to shock with every element. He took his time to create his vision, and he succeeded. This kind of passion has been noted and praised by fans for decades because ultimately it does justice to the horror world.
Too many horror films grasp at simple tropes and sloppy gore to achieve shock factor without really focusing on the duty of creating a genuinely well rounded horror film. While this leaves room for incredible successes to break new ground – as seen from the recent horror director mastermind, Jordan Peele (“Get Out,” “Us”), and complete genre bending genius, Bong Joon-ho (“Parasite,” “Snowpiercer”) – it also creates a genre that can be easily devalued.
My hope is that the horror genre will continue to develop artistically to reveal the true nature of these works and the incredible detail needed to sustain them, and that the appreciation and accolades of horror as a whole will spread to new audiences.