Fear is an essential part of the human conscious and without it, we may not be alive today.
Our natural fear of certain things is merely an adaptation passed down through generations from times when our ancient ancestors were preyed upon by saber-toothed tigers and giant sloths. Despite the fact that we have evolved and adapted to be, as far as we know, the top of our food chain, this aspect of our humanity remains. However, with the lack of any real threat to our lives, many humans have come to find satisfaction in fear.
The rush of adrenaline and disenfranchisement of power that accompanies fright and terror are often nowadays attributed solely to the movie industry. From the beginning of the cinema experience, films depicting the grotesque, ghoulish and ghastly have attracted various crowds all seeking the thrill of experiencing something beyond themselves that would otherwise be impossible to grasp.
Films such as "Night of the Living Dead", "Nosferatu" and even "The Fly" helped to spark an odd love-hate relationship between the general public and the horror industry.
Although stories and tales of the strange and supernatural have existed for as long as time can tell, the adaptation of many of these tales to the big screen has added a more human, and thus more frightening, element. Before people could simply confine tales of bloodthirsty killers and crazed creatures to their imagination but now they are, in a sense, real.
For many years the horror movie industry achieved its goal in truly frightening the general public, however, in recent years they have failed to do so on a massive scale. Although there have been several gems here and there, most modern horror movies feed off of mass hysteria as opposed to true, instinctual, human fear.
From a commercial standpoint, feeding off hysteria is a great idea. By appealing to whatever is popular at the time movie producers and directors can make a quick buck and possibly even gain a cult following if their film is popular enough.
The recent "It" film based off of Stephen King's best-selling novel is one such case. The movie, other than its main characters and basic premise, bears no resemblance to the novel of the same name. Most importantly it feeds off of what was, at the time, nationwide hysteria over clowns.
Several months prior to the release of the movie, waves of creepy clown sightings swept the United States. Naturally, the reasons behind this enumeration of sightings unexplained, many people had reason to be concerned, worried and even scared in some instances. Although released after sightings had stopped, "It" successfully fed off of this hysteria and now is set for a sequel in the coming years.
Even though the movie was a success, "It" really achieved nothing other than a fat paycheck for its creators. Although it may be a good commercial practice, when it comes to the horror genre, fear should be something that almost paralyzes its viewer and the movie should use its story, cinematography, music and acting to convey a level of fear that is real, human, and incredibly basic.
One such movie that does so better than most is "Blair Witch Project." This film took the human aspects of fear to extreme levels and even spawned its own genre of films known as "found footage."
What makes "Blair Witch Project" so terrifying, however, is the fact that it keeps things from the viewer. The film is shot in a documentary format and, at the time it was released, was advertised as a real and factual film. The film creates fear and terror without using preexisting fears. Thus, as opposed to "It" and other similar movies of our time, "Blair Witch Project" created mass hysteria instead of feeding off of it.
This is what makes a horror movie good which many producers have forgotten or simply do not care to incorporate. Although there are producers and directors today that fully understand this concept, their movies never receive the recognition they deserve and instead are left to give the limelight to lesser films. Hopefully with time, the general public, as well as producers and directors, will learn to appreciate the value of quality and true fear over a quick buck and some cheap jump scares.