Tuesday, October 5, 2010

It's all about the characters

In the spirit of Halloween, I will be discussing horror films, alot.
As some of you know, this is my favorite genre. However, these days I am overwhelmingly disappointed when the market is over saturated with torture-porn (Hostle, Saw series) and badly made remakes (Texas Chainsaw Remake, Friday the 13th Remake). I could go into an entire masters dissertation about how the horror genre is inheriting a bad name, but that is for another post.
I wanted to address an even more pressing issue, character. Complex, human characters are being lost in the overtly shallow world that populates horror filmmaking. The reason that characters like Frankenstein, Dracula, and Freddy Kruger (yes I am comparing Freddy with Dracula) are facinating is because they had interesting, cripling back stories. These monsters originated from a human existence and were tragically overcome by their emotional faults. When we (the audience) discover their dark secret, a part of us sympathizes with them which makes their character endearing (this is why some of us cheer Darth Vader). Without this back story, our emotions do not resonate with the film and it is forgotten as soon as we leave the theater.
This is a serious problem in student horror films. Bad writers tend toward the horror genre because it is easy to put an axe murderer on screen to hack up attractive women only to have him killed, innocently by the virgin protagonist. Amateur writers often oversee the reason people love horror films is because they are dealing with serious, complex, tragic human issues that manifest themselves phantasmagoricaly.
Students: If you are interested in the horror genre, do your homework before committing to a story. Remember, well written characters will separate your film from the flood of forgotten films.
The video clip is an example of what I am talking about. Please enjoy this behind the scenes vignette for the AMC Series The Walking Dead: Based on the comic by Robert Kirtzman.

If you like this post, please read up on my post regarding Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan. Click HERE.


  1. Texas Chainsaw remake was great! The first remake. cmon!

    I suggest to check out Let Me In that just came out. Great story between a boy and a girl, never really shows much gore, yet still gives you that thrill of a horror film.

  2. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I have several reasons for disliking the remake, but we can save that conversation for a dull day in the office :)
    I saw the original to Let Me In, Let the Right One In. If you check out my Black Swan Post, I have it listed as a recommendation. I would recommend you see it as well and compare it to the remake. I am on the fence about American remakes. Generally, I am disappointed, however once in a blue moon there is one that tops the original (The Thing 1982, Invasion of the Body Snatchers 1978). The Hollywood trend of remaking the 1980 classics, in my opinion, is in bad taste. I crave for some originality! I say give that money to talented filmmakers with a vision.