There’s no better way to watch a horror movie than cozied up on the couch with a friend and some popcorn. But in the 21st century, horror fans seem to be given “new” films that are a part of old franchises. As 2022 continues, will viewers see interesting original movies or just recycled old ones?
The Evolution of Horror
The first “movie” to be considered a horror film was by French director Georges Méliès in 1896. The three-minute short film, titled “The House of the Devil,” features Mephistopheles (played by Méliès) conjuring up a variety of supernatural creatures with his magical cauldron.
Since then, it is safe to say the horror genre has evolved drastically, especially when it comes to runtime. Periodically, new trends in horror are introduced in theaters, usually as an attempt to produce something that has never been seen before in the hopes of frightening audiences in ways other films cannot.
Horror is one of the most elaborate and extensive film genres. This is because of the sheer vastness of styles when it comes to the plot; there are an endless number of subgenres, but some are far more common than others and have seen much more success in recent years.
It is important to remember that horror films rarely stick to one subgenre. More often than not, they cross between two or three genres that complement one another, like comedic horror, supernatural possession or psychological-gore.
Notable Subgenres of Horror
Supernatural horror usually refers to the paranormal or demonic possession. Films that come to mind might include “The Exorcist” (1973) or “The Conjuring” (2013). These types of films have been widely popular for decades now and have even caused the creation of another genre known as found-footage horror, in which the film is shot in the style of real-life home movies such as “The Blair Witch Project” (1999) and “Paranormal Activity” (2007). Considering that video recorders have not been around for that long, this is one of the newest styles of horror films.
Monster horror relates to just that: monsters. From aliens to zombies to vampires and witches, this broad genre is a fan favorite, with new and old films like “Nosferatu” (1922), “Alien” (1979), “Shaun of the Dead” (2004) and “A Quiet Place” (2018). These films can range from kid-friendly to absolutely terrifying, making it easy to find a favorite among them.
Psychological horror does not often include supernatural elements in any way, shape or form. Often, these films feel too real, primarily when based on actual events, making it difficult for some to watch. Two well-known psychological films are “The Shining” (1980) and “Misery” (1990).
And of course, it is tough to forget the classic slasher film. To be considered a slasher, a film must have a central antagonist or villain with a high number of kills by the movie’s conclusion, often with one or no survivors. Thanks to these films, we have some of the best horror villains like Michael Myers (“Halloween,” 1978), Jason Voorhees (“Friday the 13th,” 1980), Ghostface (“Scream,” 1996), Freddy Krueger (“A Nightmare on Elm Street,” 1984) and Leatherface (“The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” 1974).
Old Franchises Die Hard
Despite the potential and wide variety available for the future of the horror genre, only a handful of horror movies have been released in 2022. And even fewer of them have come out in theaters. Out of this handful, many are far from original, with most of them being prequels, sequels or adaptations. Two of 2022’s highest-grossing and most anticipated films are part of an already established series.
“Scream” fans have had their ups and downs regarding the franchise. The 1996 origin film, directed by Wes Craven, was not only popular at its release, but very quickly became a cult classic slasher film. The 2022 edition, also titled “Scream,” is the first of the five movies to be directed by someone other than Craven after his passing in 2015. Best friend duo Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett took on the task of following in his footsteps. They brought back characters the fans love like Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell), Gale Weathers (Courteney Cox) and everyone’s favorite deputy, Dewey Riley (David Arquette).
The film was rated 76% and 81% by critics and audiences respectively on Rotten Tomatoes — making the audience ranking 2% higher than the original 1996 film, which sits at 79% across the board. The two new directors gave the fans what they wanted, and Bettinelli-Olpin and Gillett received a box office profit 5.7 times their production budget.
Although it can be exciting for fans to jump back into storylines and worlds that they have loved in the past, it is not always for the best. “Scream” found success in 2022. However, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” did not. The newest Leatherface film, directed by David Blue Garcia and released exclusively on Netflix, did not bode well against its predecessors. This is now the 10th film to feature the horrific chainsaw-wielding villain. While this one has no direct relation to the prior nine films, it is still heavily compared. The film received a 32% critic rating and a 28% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, giving the film a “rotten status.” The original 1976 film, directed by Tobe Hooper, remains at a “fresh status” of 89%, a staggering 57% higher than the newest edition.
In instances such as this, fans must ask themselves if they genuinely need another film featuring a familiar villain. More often than not, the reworked characters are wildly different from those that first terrified audiences, subsequently ruining the work of the original films.
New Scares on the Menu
However, 2022 isn’t filled with only recycled horror. Here are a few brand-new scares that horror movie lovers should be on the lookout for:
- “The Black Phone” directed by Scott Derrickson, set to premiere June 24, 2022.
- “Nope” written and directed by Jordan Peele, set to premiere July 22, 2022.
- “Salem’s Lot” directed by Gary Dauberman, set to premiere September 9, 2022.
- “Don’t Worry Darling” directed by Olivia Wilde, set to premiere September 23, 2022.
And while the film industry might need to let some scary stories stay dead, horror fans can get excited for two additional horror films in 2022 that feature familiar tales and faces.
- “Halloween Ends” directed by David Gordon Green, set to premiere October 14, 2022.
- “Orphan: First Kill” directed by William Brent Bell, set to premiere in late 2022.
Regardless of if horror fans are fond of new material or repurposed old stories, it is safe to say that the horror film industry is rapidly growing and changing as each year goes by. Audiences can only hope that the industry produces interesting films with truly frightening moments because that is what the audience is there for at the end of the day.