The Art of Darkness

The State of Horror Today

November 5th, 2015 by Cobwebs

Over on Facebook, intrepid commenter Bruno and I were recently discussing this article about the (possible) “new” trend of horror movies which feature unbeatable threats. The argument goes that, just as 50s horror movies were reflections of real-world angst about the Cold War and the atomic bomb, today’s fears of unsurmountable threats like climate change and economic collapse are producing horror where “the menace is ever-present, unsparing, and eternal. It’s to be endured, not conquered.” The two movies held up as examples of this theoretical trend are The Babadook and It Follows.

I responded thusly (spoilers for The Babadook):

I’m giving this kind of a cautious head-tilt. Functionally, I don’t see a lot of difference between the unstoppable slashers like Michael Myers and something like the Babadook or the monster in It Follows. I know the article mentions the movie characters’ belief that the horror has ended whilst the audience knows different, but clear back in the original Halloween (1978), the movie ends with Loomis and Laurie realizing that Michael isn’t dead. Indeed, I’d argue that The Babadook has a more hopeful ending than Halloween, because although the monster isn’t dead, it’s been vanquished and is more like a sulky pet.

He replied:

I appreciate your point and maybe both the article and my initial reaction are a bit of confirmation bias. Looking back to my horror consumption habits and that of friends and online communities, I see a bit of a rise in demand for non-closing horror, whether it’s Babadook or Lovecraft.

Trends in horror have a lot to say about their historical moments, and I wonder if we’re living in a sisyphean moment where closure is not an option, and so the experience of annoyance, angst and even horror are unbounded and unbeatable.

And then he suggested:

Here’s an experiment: what if we got a goth blogger with an active readership to ask her community what they’ve been reading / watching in horror that they would recommend? ;p

And so here we are. What say you, blog readership? Is there a noticeable trend in “unbeatable” monsters that bears out this idea? Even if there’s not, what have you been reading and/or watching lately that you can recommend?

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