September 2, 2021

What makes a good horror film?

As explained in our ‘About Us’ section of EffYourReview.com, we believe that horror films are similar to spicy food. If you’ve never eaten spicy food, your pain tolerance to the spiciness will not be as experienced as someone who regularly eats it. This means that someone who has only tried a chicken vindaloo once, may experience to spice a lot stronger then someone who previously has eaten this hundreds of times, and will therefore give an unfair review on it as all they felt was the pain of the heat. Here at EffYourReview, we have seen thousands of horror films, and think very carefully about a review before we finalise it. But was is it that actually makes a good horror film, and how do we rate them?

Horror films have changed throughout the years. In the 19 hundreds’, films like Psycho, The Birds, The Shinning, and The Exorcist were the most popular horror films. Now we see films like Insidious, Sinister and Paranormal Activity hitting massive numbers in the box office. These personally are not horror films that stand out as ‘classics’ to us, compared to the previous era of horror films, but that does not mean that the mainstream, casual horror enjoyer might not find them entertaining. When asking the question of ‘What makes a horror film good?’ There are a number of things that we should examine:

Suspense

Suspense is at the heart of every horror film. Without suspense, there is no surprise, and without surprise there is no fear in a jump scare. We don’t specifically believe that horror films need a jump scare to be scary, but let’s not lie, a good jump scare can petrify us.

Helplessness

Imagine there are hundreds of fighters attacking zombies. The only thing that might be scary about that, is the zombies. Now picture one person, alone, in an abandoned house, no weapons and hiding from a zombie. It feels much scarier. That is because the helplessness of that situation and persons emotions is horrific to imagine, let alone watch. We feel that helplessness is an imperative part of horror that often gets missed.

Story line

A lot of brilliant horror films either don’t use jump scares, or maybe only include one or a maximum of two. Examples of this could be The Audition (no jump scares), The Devils Rejects (no jump scares), Hereditary (one jump scare), The Witch (one minor jump scare), The Killing of a Sacred Dear (no jump scares). This is because the story line guides us to a petrifying place. It doesn’t need a shot that metaphorically shouts at you to make you jilt. The story line does that well enough.


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