So, I was perusing the filmmaker Reddit this morning and I came across a rather interesting and sad post. Someone was asking about distribution and making a profit on their film and their explanation about their horror was “Lots of bloody gore and tons of nudity”. I’m sorry, but that is not a horror film. Why is it that amateurs think you need to show nudity and have buckets of blood to make horror? Horror isn’t about the things you see it’s about the things you don’t see. It’s about the subtle itch in the back of your brain, teasing you about something it may or may not have witnessed. It’s about the creeping sensation down your spine when you walk out of the theater at night or down the dark hallway to the bathroom in your apartment.
I swear, I see more and more supposed “Horror” films being nothing but gore and nudity (neither of which I have a problem with, mind you) and miss out on the actual horror element of their story.
You shouldn’t use nudity or blood as a promotional vehicle, they’re just tools to expose the raw nerve of vulnerability or unease in people while the overall story causes the lingering sensation of panic and fear.
I think this is why the horror industry is struggling right now. Sure, you have massive box office hits and huge numbers on the board, but just because you turn a profit on a cheaply made film doesn’t make it a great film. Nor does it justify a dozen sequels that get worse and worse because you’ve lost the spirit of the original story.
If you’re thinking about making a horror film, please for the love of darkness make your script strong. Give it thought, make your characters believable and vulnerable. Make them realistic and related to. Then rip their arms off or cast them into a Stygian abyss. It’ll make the whole experience better and the entire genre will thank you for it.