2019 Horror
This year, the horror genre is on pace to snag the largest market share it's ever had. (Illustration by Julianne Griepp, Laguna College)

When it comes to cinema, there is no genre quite like that of horror. Whether it’s due to a worldwide interest in the supernatural, or just the enjoyment of being collectively scared alongside your friends and family, horror movies never fail to fill theater seats with people eager to confront their biggest fears.

While horror movies have never dominated the box office in the same fashion as more popular genres (like action/adventure and drama), their popularity has continued to rise over the past 20 years. In fact, over the past two years, the box office market share for the horror genre has never been higher, with a record-high 9.46 percent market share in 2017 and a 7.54 percent in 2018 (the second-highest horror genre market share).

This is great news for horror fans, because the genre is finally starting to receive the attention that it deserves. No longer a genre dominated by cheap jump-scares and excessive gore, horror is finally being recognized for its potential to depict the more abject, raw realities of life.

Reclining movie-sofa critics have long argued that 2007 was one of the greatest ever years for horror, boasting a 7.10 percent market share at the box office (the highest for the genre at the time). With movies like “28 Weeks Later,” “The Orphanage,” “Paranormal Activity” and two Stephen King adaptations in “The Mist” and “1408,” the year proved to be a pivotal one for the genre’s popularity.

Not only were many of these films box office hits, they made for genuinely good psychological thrillers that captured the frailty of the human psyche. Ultimately, 2007 showed audiences everywhere that there was more to horror than buckets of fake blood and ominous music.

2019 is looking to make a similar impact on the genre, and it’s succeeding. Below are three of the biggest horror films that 2019 has to offer, and how they can help make 2019 the best year for the horror genre in over a decade.

1. “Child’s Play”

Every millennial remembers walking down the horror aisle at Blockbuster and first seeing Chucky’s terrifying face plastered across a box cover. By demonizing something as innocent as a children’s doll, the film sparked many a fear that went unparalleled by any other film franchise.

Now, the franchise returns to haunt a new generation in the form of a remake of the 1988 classic that started it all. And while the new design to Chucky’s face is a little too smooth to match the shock-value of the original, the cast behind the remake is too talented to ignore. The multi-faceted Aubrey Plaza takes a break from comedy to star in the remake, and if the trailer is any indication of her performance, audiences are in for a real treat.

Brian Tyree Henry, best known for his role in the critically-acclaimed TV series “Atlanta,” is also poised for a huge role in the movie. Henry is perhaps one of the most underrated actors on TV, and “Child’s Play” will present him with a huge opportunity to prove that.

The movie’s biggest selling point, however, is the return of Mark Hamill to voice-acting, as he stars as the doll himself. Anybody who grew up watching “Batman: The Animated Series” is aware of Hamill’s perfect depiction of the animated Joker, a role that set a high standard for how psychopathic clowns ought to sound.

Hamill is sure to bring a similar energy to Chucky, making him the perfect replacement for the wonderful voice of Brad Dourif. “Child’s Play” comes to theaters June 21, where it is sure to remind audiences everywhere that some fears never die.

2. “Us”

What better way to follow up a horror remake than with perhaps the most original idea the genre has ever seen? Jordan Peele’s latest film is just as fresh and compelling as his first, doing its part to solidify Peele’s legacy as one of this generation’s greatest storytellers.

“Us” was released to theaters back in March and is still shaking audiences to their core with its unique approach to fear. The idea that each person has their own evil counterpart is not only original, but it also captures the terror surrounding a vulnerable identity. Peele ultimately challenges humanity by pitting mankind against a vengeful and primitive version of itself, all while depicting the common individual as powerless against a collective enemy.

Peele applies fear to this theme through a wonderful script, disturbing cinematography and phenomenal acting performances, the latter of which is mostly due to a stellar showing from Lupita Nyong’o, who plays both the terrified protagonist and her psychotic enemy. If horror movies ever got Oscar nods, Nyong’o would be a lock for a best actress nomination. “Us” is scheduled to release to DVD June 18 and should certainly be on the shopping list of horror buffs everywhere.

3. “Midsommar”

The above title should really just be A24 Studios, because the entire studio has been monumental for the horror genre this year. An early and quiet release of the film “The Hole in the Ground” saw A24, once again, dominating the horror scene. Nobody really noticed as one of the most unsettling movies about a single mother flew right by.

Fortunately for A24, their next horror movie, “Midsommar,” is already receiving far more attention. Over the past few years, A24 has made a name for itself as one of the most groundbreaking curators of horror.

“Midsommar” is geared to be just as groundbreaking by becoming the first ever horror film to completely take place in the sunlight. The story revolves around a couple that travels to Sweden for a mysterious harvest festival, who soon find themselves in the hands of a Pagan cult.

While daylight is often perceived as a beacon of safety in horror, “Midsommar” aims to flip this narrative by turning daylight into the inescapable enemy; the only true safe place for the protagonists appears to be hidden within the darkness. While many of the plot details surrounding “Midsommar” have yet to be made public, many horror fans are confident that A24 will once again bring their trademark storytelling ability to the big screen. “Midsommar” comes to theaters July 3.

While the above three films are not the only horror films that 2019 has to offer, with “IT: Chapter Two” and Guillermo Del Toro’s “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” forecasted to receive plenty of attention, they are certainly three huge reasons why horror fans should be excited about this year.

Not only are many of 2019’s horror films innovative for the genre, but they are also on pace to break 2017’s market-share record. Halfway through the year, the genre currently holds a 4.13 percent market share for 2019. If “IT: Chapter Two” can live up to the hype of its predecessor, then this number will skyrocket in the latter half of the year, especially with the approach of October.

If the horror genre can finish as strong as it’s predicted to, then 2019 will be remembered as one of the greatest years for horror in over a decade.

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