Friday, May 7, 2010

Editor's Column: Honeymooning with Horror

Founder Sarah E. Jahier

Hey, check it out…this is new! For your entertainment and my sanity, I’ll be spewing sharing my opinions in a weekly/monthly/whenever-I-get-to-it column. Topics will vary widely and I’ll talk about whatever I please in the realm of horror! Onwards, Fatal Fiends! 

Horror and I have been going steady for many years now. Our relationship fluctuates a lot – from volatile to comfortable to passionate. Horror can be a fickle lover, turning its back and being unavailable at times, but I still stick with it. Even when the bad boy of movie genres gives me bad remakes or PG-13 bubblegum horror, I tend to stand by its side.

Lately, though, I feel like I’ve been in a slump with the genre. I know that it can be capricious, but lately I hadn’t been feeling the love as much as I used to. While people praised Shutter Island, I felt like an old grouch grousing about it. The same can be said of numerous new horror movies I’ve seen in the theater or on DVD, which is why my reviews around here have been pretty sparse. Something is just missing and I’m not sure if it is me or the genre itself that’s grown stale.

Is this just another bump in the road in my relationship with horror or is the honeymoon finally over…for good?

I remember the days when horror and I were first becoming acquainted, horror aggressively pursuing while I played coy and peeked out from behind my fingers. I quickly became acclimated to the genre and it itself showed me its many different sides. From giallo to J-Horror to exploitation to ghosts to vampires to zombies to slashers and everything in between it seemed that horror proffered endless possibilities. From then on we were inseparable. We would spend our evenings and weekends together, me bathed in horror’s warm, red glow and my love and affection of the genre seemingly endless. As the years wore on though, we started to change. We started bickering about the smallest things – I felt horror was starting to get sloppy and becoming repetitive and derivative. With the market inundated by dumbed-down remakes, reimagings, reboots or whatever catchy phrase they were branding these cinematic abortions as, I struggled to find horror worth watching. Spending time with my go-to genre now seemed more of a chore rather than a pleasure. The thrill was gone. Horror turned its back for a while, calling me cynical and critical, insinuating that I was no fun anymore.

Finally, I decided to take a break from horror. My horror movies sat collecting dust on shelves and my Netflix queue was filled up with comedies, TV shows, dramas, quirky indies, even some Disney movies (but no romcoms…I wouldn’t go that far!). I enjoyed my time away from horror, but after a few days/weeks a sense of separation anxiety set in and I truly began to miss horror. I missed the shock value, the blood and guts, the predictable (and not-so-predictable) storylines, the spooky atmosphere, the scares and the sense of community. It was a short break, but I realized I just couldn’t ignore horror’s alluring siren call and wished to be held in its monstrous gaze once more.

Horror and I are now back together and going steady, but I still yearn for the days when the genre made my stomach turn flip flops and released a nervous fluttering of butterflies in my stomach. I’ve explored many areas of my favorite genre and wouldn’t trade it in for the world, but horror’s down-times are still hard to bear. However, I’ve learned that during these lean times in the horror genre make for a great opportunity to step back, take a break and in the end fall in love with horror all over again.

I’ll admit that horror doesn’t give me the butterflies like it once did and is completely unreliable, giving us turds like Return to Sleepaway Camp along with wonderful gems like Zombieland, but our love is fate. I can’t deny that the genre makes me cranky sometimes, and while I may lament its demise on occasion, I all know that horror is what I love and despite its flaws I’ll continue to love it year after year.

Yours truly,
Fatally Yours

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