For some reason, I love horror movies. I am stating the fact in this manner because horror movies, as a genre, are consistently disappointing. All the good parts are in the previews, so you think you're going to be batshit scared and then, not only is the plot shaky and dragged out, not ONLY is the acting weak and misdirected, NOT ONLY is the dialogue predictable and painful to follow, but the anticipated edge-of-your-seat queasefest is entirely nonexistent.
It's probably just the fact that it's all been done, and all there is left to do is gross out the audience. I mean, once upon a time, Jaws was terrifying. Today, that shark is fairly laughable, even if the movie is great. Even films like The Shining and The Exorcist can't scare me (side note: admittedly, Evil Dead does). I need faster, grosser, weirder monsters — or a psychological element so terrifying that I can't sleep at night.
Last night I was watching the Horrorfest 2006 movies that were being aired on Sci-Fi. I caught the end of The Hamiltons, which, while not particularly frightening, is a fairly interesting flick. It, unlike the rest of the Horrorfest films that I've seen, had its moments of innovation. It had a twist on an old favorite (vampires), a morally ambiguous cast of characters, and quite a few surprises. In addition, a lot of the shots were through the eyes of the teenage protagonist, and the lens of his hand-held video camera. Unrest, while a step up from many horror films in some of its visual stimuli (a huge chunk of the film takes place in a bleak cadaver lab, with medical students cutting and groping at body parts in a totally-not-for-Grey's-Anatomy fashion. But, naturally, the whole the dead-comes-back-to-life-to-avenge-postmortem-disrespect thing is so overdone that no element in this film can possibly make up for it, especially with its lack of subtlety, giving no credit to the intelligence of the audience. Penny Dreadful is the worst of the batch, as it could have been a great psychological thriller, but instead is the audio-visual torture of a girl trapped in a car with her dead therapist crying and having panic attacks.
I really don't know why I keep watching horror movies and expecting something out of them. The last truly scary movie I saw — a squeeze-your-date's-hand-so-hard-it-sorta-hurts movie — was 28 Weeks Later. It was fast-paced and unpredictable. I really liked it. Previous to that, only the Japanese could make me cringe. Films like Ju-On and Ringu really got my attention, but, like all trends, this one hit a rut as well. Reincarnation (Rinne, in Japanese), was a part of last year's Horrorfest, and since it was directed by Ju-On's Takashi Shimizu, I expected it to be so terrifying that I couldn't bring myself to watch the DVD for weeks. But it was as predictable as any other horror film. Come on, Horrorfest, give us something to sink our teeth into!
This year's "8 Films to Die For" look remotely promising. The blurbs on the website make the films sound more creative than last year's, and interesting enough that I'm tempted to have hope. I worry that I've become completely desensitized to gore, but at least one of these eight films must have what it takes to make me cover my eyes and scream.