A Revisit: Modern Day Horror Classics

 This was written in 2018, when quality horror was one the rise.  I don't think it has slowed down at all, as each year since then has brought some truly remarkable films.  I think I got some of this wrong, but that's just the way things go.  A little bit of time needs to pass sometimes to understand just how good a film can be.  Some present day thoughts have been added in bold text.  Over the next few weeks I will repost all of the reviews that I had written to accompany this piece.

Original Article:

 Halloween is nearing, and, as such, it's time for things to get a bit spooky.  Over the next week (in this case it will be over the next few weeks) in the lead up to Halloween, I have decided to spend a bit of time reviewing modern horror classics.  I won't be ranking the films in order of importance or personal taste, but rather chronologically.  This is a genre that a lot of people brush off as perhaps amateurish, juvenile, or as just plain garbage.  Yes, horror movies can be all of those things, but they can be used for so much more.  Horror films can be incredibly varied in what they do.  They can be comedies, satire, allegorical, political or social commentaries, inspection of the human condition and nature, and so much more.  Yet, because they are called 'horror,' many people are quick to cast them aside.

It is easy to look to the past and see examples of what could be called horror classics, films such as Psycho, The Exorcist, Rosemary's Baby, Halloween, and Jaws (yes, Jaws is indeed a horror film).  For those like me, a great deal of time passed through the mid to late 80s, the 90s, and the 2000s where truly landmark horrors didn't come along often (There were still a bunch of good movies in that time, but trends kept pumping out some pretty bland material).  As discussed on The Movie Breakdown podcast that I co-host with Christopher Spicer, we believe that we are in a revolution of horror.  I would even say it could be argued that as a story telling method goes, we may be in the best era (don't take me to task over this, it's just something I'm throwing out there).

Can recent movies really be deemed as classic?  I believe so.  It can be very apparent when you see a film to understand that what you are seeing is a landmark moment, whether that's in terms of things like critical acclaim, quality, or popularity.  The movies I am going to be looking at have all proved to be films that added to the evolution of the genre.

I hope that you are able to follow me through this, as I work to pay attention to films that made an impact.  Each of the movies I will talk about consist of much more than just trying to scare the viewer.  My hope is that perhaps, even if you don't decide to watch any of these movies, more people will be able to recognize some of the impactful and smart stories that can be told through this genre.

Runners Up

Mike Flanagan - Technically this isn't a movie, but it is an incredibly talented director who has been able to take well worn story structures and inject something original into them.  His approach to horror always seems to be about telling a story first and adding scares is secondary.  Mike Flanagan is a great entry point for people who want to dip their toes into the water for the first time with a movie like Hush, and he is a great go-to for those extremely familiar with horror tropes in a movie like Oculus (all hail Mike Flanagan).

Split - M. Night Shyamalan had alienated pretty much his entire fan base, and it looked like we wouldn't be seeing any more from him.  Working with prolific horror producer Jason Blum, Shyamalan made a comeback with The Visit, a film on a micro budget that focused on family bonds as well as tackling what scares you most.  It was a return to his humble roots, and he used that to propel him forward with Split.  With a wonderful script and phenomenal performances from James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy (who I will be talking about soon enough).  It was a commercial hit, and it reminded us that M. Night Shyamalan can tell incredibly good stories.

Hereditary - This is a film that leans heavy on the dramatic side of things.  It is an enthralling story of a mother trying to get over a tragedy, and the sorts of things she invites into her house as she tries to grasp onto something precious that was lost.  Toni Collette leads the actors through an emotional story that has some seriously genuine scares in it. Scott, Scott, Scott... you miserable jerk. I had only seen this film once when I wrote this, and I would dare say that it is indeed one of the best horror films of the past decade.

Mandy - I don't know what to say about this film.  I am ninety five percent sure that this film will have a massive cult following in ten years.  Using Nicolas Cage, in a movie that is as bat-shit crazy as Cage can be, the film functions as a revenge tail on some sort of art house steroid.  I have seen it, but I honestly don't know what star rating I would give it.  I really enjoyed it, I know that much.  This is a film that I would probably have to see two more times to get a proper handle on.  If you like things straight forward and easy to follow, this is probably the film of 2018 that you need to stay away from the most. Scott, Scott, Scott... you are still a miserable jerk.  This film is best described as 'an experience.'  All fans of either Nicolas Cage or horror should talk a walk through Mandy.