How A24 saved the horror genre


How A24 saved the horror genre

A24 saved the horror genre and I’m pretty sure they didn’t even know they were doing it. Let’s go back to 2010 though while I explain. For a long time 2010 and onwards was considered the worst decade for horror. This was until the second half, around 2015, when everything changed. Hollywood had gotten hold of the genre, and were dominating the scene, pumping out Paranormal 2, 3 and 4. During this time, Halloween 2 had just been released and movies like The Conjuring, Sinister and Insidious had huge popularity at the time. Don’t get me wrong, most of us horror fans love binge watching the conjuring and Insidious movies, but if you don’t like the horror genre, you’re definitely not going to enjoy these films, so typically people would instantly right off seeing them in the cinema, or trail watching them due to the amount of jump scares they have.
Although the horror genre remained financially safe, there was a certain staleness with innovation in horror, as only one or two high calibre movies would come out every few years that bought new horror fans into this category and changed the way we viewed the villains within horror. An example of this would be Goodbye Mommy in 2014, and IT Follows in the same year.
There typically wasn’t distribution or production companies at the time that could almost watermark the guaranteed success of a film. We may have been familiar with Twisted Pictures due to the Saw franchise, or Blumhouse productions within the horror category, but there was still a sense of being unsure if a horror movie is going to be truly scary and intelligent, not just creepy during the scary parts. By this, I mean a well thought out film with excellent script writing and the type of movie you have to watch twice or even three times to fully understand it. Movies like Donnie Darko and Momento focus in on this, but there was a short period in horror and thriller where it was forgotten about. I don’t know any film distribution or production companies that has solidified a stamp of approval as well as A24 has within the past 8 years.
When A24 came along, they changed the trajectory of horror. Let’s fast forward to the middle of the decade, just after the 2014 success of their first proper attempt within horror, ex Machina. A24 had spotted Robert Egger’s The Witch at Sundance film festival and instantly bought the distributor rights for it, in order to their current tiny portfolio of horror movies. This was the start of their horror expansion and a great way to gain the trust of horror lovers everywhere. The Witch became some what of a benchmark in horror, and was originally a huge gamble for A24. During this time horror had a tendency to have lots of jump scares, and the witch only has one. Fortunately for A24, this risk paid off, with The Witch firmly solidifying itself into the world of horror, growing a huge fan base and winning many awards, including Robert Eggers breakout director award and Empires best horror film award the following year. This acknowledgment into horror was just the start, with what seemed like hit after hit after hit being distributed and produced by A24, and I think that one of the main reasons for success that A24 have found within horror is because of them investing in their directors and trusting them with their process. Three years after Robert Egger’s directed The Witch, A24 produced and distributed The Lighthouse staring Robert Patterson and Willem Defoe. Just one year before this, in 2018, A24 were aware of one of the most popular horror movie directors in the world, years before the world new his name. This was of course, Ari Aster. After noticing Ari Aster’s work on short horror movies, more specifically The Strange Thing About The Johnsons, A24 gave him his shot at his first feature film. This film stood out even to seasoned horror fans, and it was called Hereditary.
It seemed like overnight Hereditary gained the popularity that I’ve personally never seen towards the horror genre since Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining or William Friedkin’s The Exorcist. People that didn’t even like horror would watch this film, and it quickly became A24s highest grossing movie at the time. Winning award, after award, after award. Hereditary ended up being nominated for 111 awards, and winning 50 of them, ranging from best horror film, best actress and best break out director. A24 knew they were right to invest in Ari Aster, and following their typical trend they stayed loyal to their directors and gave the greenlight to Midsommar. The trippy horror movie about a small group of college students who go to a festival in Sweden, and get caught up heavily in a terrifying ordeal. This loyalty to their directors is something that continues further, with Beau is afraid 4 years later in 2022 being released, and director Ti West’s X and Pearly both released in the same year. While these horror movies were being realised, A24 also produced Men, directed by Alex Garland who you guessed it, also directed a previous A24 horror classic, Ex – Machina.
In the small time frame of 2015 to 2023, A24 distributed 21 horror movies, most of which are huge successes within the horror genre. Out of these 21 horrors, you can count on two hands the number of jump scares that appear in these films. Movies like Midsommar, Hereditary, Men, Killing of a Sacred Dear, Green Room, Climax are all a breath of fresh air within horror. With storyline, cinematography, visual effects and scriptwriting carrying the narrative and creating the anxiety you experience when watching these films. This terror is not created by jump scares and creepy villains.
As horror fans we love watching horror movies with great jump scares, but we’re not a stupid audience. We can tell when a movie relies on jump scares to add fear for the audience and when a story is so terrifying it doesn’t need to add one or rely on them. During this recent time frame, in my opinion, it’s inspired many horror directors to adapt to this method and become creative within their story telling. In 2016, just one year after The Witch, Raw was released. A horror movie with no jump scares that is truly terrifying, based on a young student who studies at university and slowly becomes obsessed with eating raw meat, which escalates to the flesh of humans. The following year we saw The Ritual, which was nominated for 5 awards and won 4, including being nominated for the Fright Metre Award for Best horror movie, winning best creature FX and winner of the British best independent film award. In my opinion, since A24’s huge rise in 2015 within the horror genre, we’ve seen a rise within the quality of horror films, and I don’t think it’s by accident. There are countless examples since 2015 like the films I just mentioned, such as 2018s Suspiria, Apostol, Don’t worry darling, Get Out, Relic, Run, Mandy, The Lodge, US, The Platform, Colour out of space, Come to Daddy, Mother! heck even the new Paranormal Activity, a franchise that I thought would never change their style has differentiated their approach and focused heavier on the storyline and build up.
I’m not saying that all A24 horror films are brilliant though, there are some which didn’t make it into the spotlight, and that’s fine. But when I think about the bar that the top A24 films have bought to the scene in horror, coming originally from documentaries and dramas, without having as much experience within horror as many other producers and distributers, I’m honestly grateful as a horror fan, and looking forward to what we can experience next. I make a lot of videos on horror movies and all things scary, so if you enjoyed this video please hit the like button and subscribe with notifications on, it really helps out the channel and lets me continue making videos. Until next time horror fans, peace.
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