2017 Marks The Resurgence Of Horror Flicks

Get Out Blumhouse Productions

It’s been an outstanding year for horror films, both critically and commercially. Jordan Peele’s Get Out kicked off the 2017 horror revival back in February and Happy Death Day is currently ushering it to a triumphant close. The latter notwithstanding, the horror films of this year veered decidedly from the realm of schlockdom. They reveled in social commentary, or were Lovecraftian, or took inspiration from the works of Kubrick. Of all the great independent films and blockbusters of 2017, horror had the most to say. This has gone a long way in, once again, validating the genre in the eyes of the industry. For many years, horror meant little more than a series of jump scares, or hokey attempts at introducing visually iconic movie monsters. Films like It Comes At Night, The Void, and Gerald’s Game aimed at a smarter approach to tired trends.

At its best, horror is the genre most suited to tackle concerns of the psyche. Like 1979’s Alien, wherein the yet to be named Xenomorph is just a placeholder for any number of fears plaguing the human mind. Or more recently the way Thelma is just a big ol’ scary allegory for adolescence. The release of Darren Arnofsky’s Mother and Jordan Peele’s Get Out mark a welcome return to form for the genre, creatively speaking. As for commercial success in 2017, horror seems to be the only thing immune to the abyssal box office returns that has plagued most of the films this year. It, in addition to being the highest grossing horror film of all time, is also the 9th highest grossing film of this year. Get Out grossed over $253 dollars at the box office on a $4.5 million dollar budget. Annabelle: Creation managed to rake in $305 million on a $15 million dollar budget. Both impressive feats for any film, but especially for two R-rated horror films.

Director Jordan Peele spoke with Deadline on the success of Get Out. Peele aimed to make a  film that mocked conventions and with his character Chris, played by Daniel Kaluuya, availed a message about what it means to be Black in America. “You are Chris when you watch this movie,” Peele said. “The power of story encourages empathy. It allows us to see through other people’s lives.”  

It’s nice to see horror finding its legs again in a sea of franchise drivel. The tropes of the genre ensure each film has a little more wiggle room to play with more uncomfortable themes. That doesn’t always mean gore, or imagery, though when that’s done, it can be rewarding all by itself. But Mother also expressed a radical polemic against theology, while It Comes At Night’s commentary explores paranoia regarding the unknown. Horror doesn't have to be reduced to popcorn, date movie schlock. Thankfully audiences and critics seem to agree.


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