I haven’t admitted this to a lot of people. I tried confessing it to my husband but instead of being tender and understanding, he mocked me terribly. So, I admit it fully now, shout it out to every corner of the World Wide Web. The Blair Witch Project scared the crud out of me.
In my favour, the style of the movie had never been done before. It was 1999, and the media landscape was changing radically. We weren’t as dependent on reality television and the Internet as we are now. We were so naïve and sweet that if our stories were presented to us in a way that made them seem real, we believed them to be. The shaky camera, the awkward angles, the unpolished acting…why would anyone do this on purpose? It had to be real, right? To top it off, the Internet marketing was pretty genius too. It was the first website that I had been to that was connected to a film. It seemed like such a big deal, it just couldn’t be fake! Yeah. I was twenty-five and I lived with my parents. I was a sucker.
Since it’s giant wet flop onto the film scene however, the ‘found footage’ style of horror filmmaking has taken over the genre. Seriously, I have to take a Gravol before I sit down to watch anything ‘frightening’ these days.
What concerns me is that an entire generation is growing up thinking that this shaky, sick-making found footage is the only way to film a proper horror movie. With the Paranormal Activity franchise raking in mass amounts of money and most horror films available on Netflix boasting the same nausea inducing style it makes me wonder if the next generation is going to be robbed of good, solid horror films.
I’m trying to think of how I would enlighten them. What would I show them that might actually frighten them while at the same time making them appreciate the calculated art of filmmaking? Found footage is cheap. I can imagine it is extraordinarily easy to do and relies on the gullibility of the audience to create any kind of tension.
I want people to become engrossed in a horror movie because it’s well written, it’s immaculately directed and everything comes together to create a genuinely terrifying experience. I want it to look like it took time, money and creativity to complete. It disturbs me to think that there is a whole segment of society that is so used to being entertained by viral videos that anything except for the bare minimum of filmmaking seems outdated or irrelevant.
So, to make myself feel better, I created a dream list of movies I would force teenagers to watch before it’s too late.
Alfred Hitchcock, definitely – Rear Window, specifically.
Certainly The Changeling – It actually sped my heartbeat up.
The Ring – Sadako crawling out of the TV sent me into giggling ecstasy
Devil’s Backbone – Those ghosts were absolutely top mark
Kingdom Hospital – So strange, so wonderful, so unlike anything…
I’m sure there’s plenty more. In fact, I know there’s plenty more but I’m realizing that this post is aging me. It’s the equivalent to the ‘I used to walk a mile up hill in the snow’ conversation in blog form. Maybe I’m just frightened. I’m worried that my favorite type of film is going to become extinct and I’ll never get that feeling again. You know what I’m talking about…the one that makes you pull your legs up onto the couch in case something grabs you. Imagine a life without that illicit thrill. That’s truly frightening.