Here we are. November 1. The day after the big day for horror fans.
November 1 is the day that most people start thinking about their plan of attack for preparing for the next big holiday on the list. But for me, I have one mission in mind: track down all of the people who resisted watching horror movies with me in October because they “hate horror” and force them to like it, damn it!
Horror is such a prominent part of my life that I can’t fathom that there is a portion of the population that just doesn’t appreciate it. Last night, when I got a look that said, “REALLY?” when I said that our plan were to watch scary movies, I finally snapped. “It’s one day of the year! I get to have ONE day of the year where people don’t give me a hard time! It’s Halloween…I get a pass on horror shaming!”
There are very few people who hate all movies. Seriously, who are these people? However, of movie lovers, the people who don’t enjoy horror seem to hold this opinion for one of two reasons. The first one is that they are genuine fraidy cats. Perhaps they have been traumatized by a horror movie in the past. Maybe a sibling jumped out at them from a darkened doorway wearing a werewolf mask. Maybe a family friend bought the six-year old them the Nightmare on Elm Street board game for their birthday (something that totally didn’t happen to me and definitely didn’t create a very awkward moment at a fairly large family birthday).
The second reason behind “hating” horror movies is easier to fix – cinema snobbery, plain and simple. People who proclaim that horror is stupid, predictable, offensive, or crass clearly haven’t been watching the right stuff. This is evidenced by movies like It Comes At Night and Get Out that become labelled as “thrillers” by a crowd that can’t admit that they just enjoyed a horror movie.
Whatever the reason, you’ll enjoy success in getting people to the dark side with these tips!
1. DON’T Get Right Into the Messy Stuff
I find that most horror haters will immediately say, “I hate all the mindless gore!” To a non-horror fan, modern horror pretty much equals the later Saw movies. The key here is to start with movies that show how smart horror can be. Teach that effective horror may include the splatter, but it’s not the driving force. You also want to avoid anything that is intensely scary – remember, they’re like Bambi learning how to walk of scary movie fans. You don’t want to scare them into the thicket permanently.
Avoid slashers and gratuitous gore for the first time out. Try smart but relatively gore-free titles like The Others, Before I Wake, or Creep to show that horror has more guts than…well, guts.
2. DON’T Start With Parody or Meta
Parody is all well and good for a laugh, but as a horror fan I feel like it’s making fun of me. I mean, I laughed when I saw Scary Movie, but it didn’t feel like it was a love letter to my passion. I felt like it was a little mean, accentuating the flaws instead of what was so great about them.
Meta horror is the exact opposite. It is appreciated by fans because that’s who these films are meant for. Movies like The Final Girls or Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon are fantastic. I love them, and there is something about films like these that make me feel accepted as part of a larger community that gets my love of all things weird and dark. But there is no way that a beginner fan will be able to appreciate Leslie Vernon’s patented brick slide the same way that you will. Give them time.
If you feel that they’re ready for the gore, start them with Scream. They will appreciate the people in the movie that point out all of the things that they hate about scary movies…and be impressed when it annihilates their expectations. You could also try Trick ‘R Treat, as everyone can appreciate that Halloween is the one night a year that it might be wise to heed a little superstition now and then.
3. DO Stick With Modern At First
We unfortunately live in a time that we have been spoiled by special effects and technology in film to the point that a lot of people hate watching “old” movies. I say “old” because I am picturing using it in air quotes after someone told me that The Lost Boys was thirty years old.
Horror lovers on the whole appreciate the classics. They love every swing of every 80s masked man’s machete. But that love is often fueled by nostalgia. These were the movies that got them in to horror all those years ago. Chance are, these are the movies that either irreparably damaged the haters as children, or that they use as a reason to justify that horror is deficient in some way.
To get my fiancé into Evil Dead, I started him on Ash vs. Evil Dead. It had enough information that he was caught up on the backstory. He thought it was hilarious, and as he is a casual horror watcher who enjoys a good bloodfest now and then, he was totally okay with the gore. After we’d gone back and watched Army of Darkness, he told me that had I started him with the originals, he would have found them cheesy and over the top. Because he was invested in the newer iteration, he was able to find an appreciation for the classics that he otherwise wouldn’t have found.
4. DO Find Out Their Tastes
So you’ve FINALLY convinced your friend that they absolutely NEED to give even just ONE horror movie a shot before they die. Maybe you reeled them in with a line about a true movie buff’s bucket list. Maybe you manipulated their competitive nature into believing that their status as “chicken” was at stake. Or maybe you had a tantrum and sat on them until they gave in. Whatever happened, they agreed, and now you are under pressure to deliver goods you promised them.
All of the sudden it seems like an insurmountable task. What if you solidify their dislike of horror forever? What if you pick something that’s too much and they end up catatonic for the next twenty years? What if all you succeed at doing is convincing them that you’re secretly a serial killer?
Whatever the reason, you’re now responsible for their entire impression of the genre.
Before you start whittling down the list of your favourites, make sure that you ask them about theirs. This is their horror education that we’re talking about here; they should have a say in it.
Does their taste lean toward family drama? Try The Haunting of Hill House or A Quiet Place. Do they like a good mystery? Try them on The Orphanage or Crimson Peak. Just make sure that you aren’t disregarding their tastes to make them watch what you love as a seasoned scary movie fan. This is a sure fire way to drive them away from the genre completely. Once they trust your taste more, they’ll be more willing to try things outside of their comfort zone.
Good luck in increasing the ranks! Just remember: patience, patience, patience! They’ll get to the really great stuff eventually…just ease them in gently.