I know what you’re thinking: How can all horror movies be good if bad horror movies exist?
Although a cold shiver runs down my spine at the thought of the answer to this question not being abhorrently obvious to the average (every) reader, in my infinite kindness and goodness, I will elaborate.
Let’s start with the conventional good horror movie.
If you are looking to tap into your inner film major fantasy, doing some research and finding a horror film with high ratings is a great place to start.
Take the first “The Conjuring” movie for example. This movie was regarded as one of the best horror movies to come out in 2013 and had an audience rating of 4.7.
It’s a great example of a good horror movie. It’s scary without relying too heavily on jump scares, the pacing doesn’t drag, and a second watch-through holds up pretty well to the first.
As someone lucky enough to experience the movie in all its glory when it came out, I can testify to the fear this movie incited in the poor hearts of the audience members.
A good horror movie unites an entire theater of people in screams, gasps and the occasional sigh of relief and “The Conjuring” did just that.
So yes, I would say The Conjuring is a good movie — a great movie I dare say — but that isn’t the point of this article. Obviously.
But let’s look at one more example of a widely accepted good horror movie because my kindness is in fact not infinite.
“The Shining”. It’s good.
Really good. If you want to get a pretentious horror buff (me) talking for an eternity, just ask them about “The Shining.”
From an analytic point of view, “The Shining” is wonderfully complex. The cinematography makes the audience feel uneasy and anxious.
The performances by Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall are incredible. And the slow, gradual, fall into madness Jack slips into feels real and drags the viewer down with him.
It’s a good horror movie, but is it the best the genre has to offer? Nope! Can you tell I’m excited to explain why?
Okay, we’ve briefly established that “The Shining” is a masterpiece in cinema storytelling, so why do a lot of people actually hate this movie?
If you ask a non-frequent horror watcher to sit down with you and enjoy the two and half hour film, chances are they’ll be asleep by the end. It’s a very long movie and is mostly psychological horror until the end.
Can you be too hard on them? But that’s not to say it’s not a good movie. All horror movies are good.
But we can do better. We deserve better.
What kind of horror movie can you show that one friend that will fall asleep just as Freddy Krueger is about to slice someone’s gut open — a horror movie that even people who say they hate horror can watch?
A terrible, awful, low-rated, low-budget horror movie. A good-bad horror movie, if you will.
As much as I love the most beloved movies in the genre, a ‘bad’ horror movie is arguably more fun to watch than a critically acclaimed one. They’re just actually funny comedies in disguise.
Normal comedies are rarely funny to begin with but put on a showing of “Unfriended” with your friends and I guarantee you will never laugh harder in your entire life.
I’ll add that the “Final Destination” movies and “Hellfest” on Netflix achieve a similar effect. You’re welcome.
What can I say?
There’s a special type of magic that goes into watching a movie that you know the writers came up with by tossing a few children’s games in a hat and shrugging their shoulders at the first pick (I’m looking at you “Never Have I Ever,” “Truth or Dare” and “Hide and Seek”).
I would not be surprised if someone came out with a Duck, Duck, Goose movie where getting tapped for goose means you have to run from a crazed serial killer who was traumatized by geese in their youth.
It wouldn’t be the most absurd premise to a horror movie I’ve seen.
Anyway, my point is that the beauty of the horror genre is in its range.
You can watch a really amazing horror movie and walk out of the theater thinking, “Wow, what a great movie. I think I’ll watch that again,” and you can watch the most poorly made film in cinematic history that had no thought put into it and walk out thinking, “Wow, tears are streaming down my face. That was hilarious.”
It’s the world’s most perfect win-win scenario.
Either amazingly written or hilariously executed.
The macabre and satirical in synchronous harmony.
So when you’re looking for a frightening movie to celebrate Halloween this year, don’t stress!
There really is no wrong option.
Appreciate and love all the good horror movies out there, but don’t forget about the hidden treasure that lies with the bad ones too.
Because I promise you, at the end of the day the bad ones are just as good.