2017 Horror Movie Trend Review: Did Chiller Movies Just Get a Serious Boost?

2017 Horror Movie Trend Review: Did
Chiller Movies Just Get a Serious Boost?

If you are obsessed with all things horror, then 2017 was a particularly good year. It
produced some masterpieces that stood out not only as the best films of the year, but
among the best horror films of all ages. And strangely enough, they might have
signalled a move away from gore and slash that have occupied (pun intended) the
horror trope during the last years onto the supernatural realm. Is it time for suspense
and the paranormal to triumph over blood and violence – or not just yet?

Yes to Gore, but with a Purpose

Slash and gore are a staple of the horror genre and even if you’re more into chiller-
type movies generally, we all enjoy a good dose of slasher horror now and then.
Besides serving as a release valve for bottled up stress for so many of us, gore can also
be used as a means to convey deeper symbolism and social commentary. And 2017
delivered one of the most shining examples of that with Raw – an extremely disturbing
yet brilliant cannibalistic film that currently holds a rare 90% score on Rotten
Tomatoes. After an opening weekend that yielded $24,825, Raw skyrocketed to an
unexpected $3,096,815 international box office in just 8 weeks. Not bad for an indie
horror movie. The movie that saw audience members faint or leave theatres in disgust
and nausea has achieved critical acclaim and is celebrated as an insightful and scathing
commentary on female sexual desire and social expectations. Raw follows the film’s
protagonist, a devout vegetarian and model student and daughter, as she comes to
grips with her newly discovered lust for (human) flesh and tries to navigate the world
around her. It seems that cannibalism has experienced somewhat of a revival this year,
as it is also the central premise of popular horror-comedy series Santa Clarita Diet on
Netflix, starring Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant. The series, which explores a
suburban couple’s forced lifestyle changes as the wife turns into a zombie and
develops a taste for human flesh, has gained a devoted fan base and was recently
renewed for a second season in 2018.

The Undead Still Going Strong

Zombies have been at the forefront of horror cinematography for a while now,
captivating viewers with chilling and suspenseful battles between the undead and the
living – although in the Netflix series, the zombie condition is approached much more
delicately and as a metaphor for self-reflection and changes that strain relationships
and interpersonal dynamics, all the while served up with a hearty slice of gore. The
zombie trope has been so popular that it has spilled over to other sectors of the
entertainment industry – including mainstream online slots games like Betway Casino
Lost Vegas slot and a Nazi Zombie apocalypse on popular first-person shooter video
game series Call of Duty. In indie gaming, Rusty Lake released the most
recent installment in their popular adventure game series in January 2018. Going by
the title of Rusty Lake Paradise, the game deals with themes of animal sacrifice,
ancient curses and the soul. Of course, the leading franchise in the zombie trend still is
hit TV series The Walking Dead, currently in its 8th season – but is its gore a bit
outdated? The series has seen its viewership waning and has been called out for
useless violence and slash without pushing forward with character development. It
seems that gore can only get you so far – but the zombies are far from dead yet, with
interesting movies lined up to be added to the genre in 2018. One that promises to
stand out is The Forest of Hands and Teeth, based on the New York Times best-selling
novel by Carrie Ryan and starring GoT’s Maisie Williams.

It and Get Out Lead the Way

Yet, the most brilliant additions of the past year to the horror genre did not rely on
gore but instead on spine-chilling pure psychological terror. The biggest news of the
year was of course the remake of Stephen King’s iconic It, with evil reincarnated as our
beloved Pennywise. It swept horror-loving crowds and beyond (especially during
Halloween) with a box office opening weekend of a staggering $123 million and
received almost universal raving reviews on all fronts, both on the terror meter as well
as in terms of storytelling, visuals, and cast performances. Things do not look quite as
hopeful for other paranormal genres though, such as ghost movies, which seem to be
suffering from severe sequelitis. The Insidious franchise began with the ambitious and
well-received 2011 movie but is currently in its fourth instalment, set to theaters in
2018 – its second prequel. The Conjuring universe on the other hand seems to hit
home every time with audiences and critics alike, but is pushing for time: after the
second movie in the Anabelle spin-off was released in 2017, 2018 will bring a second
spin-off of the series, The Nun. Although the franchise is so far producing high quality
results, the approach is starting to resemble that of cinematic universes like Marvel’s
that tap into the hype of previous installments.

And then there is Get Out, this year’s undeniable superstar that is getting Oscar buzz
and restored horror movies in the limelight. Get Out is the story of a young black man
going away on a weekend to meet his white girlfriend’s family is full of supernatural
scares, humor and unexpectedly incisive social critique. The movie received the
ultimate honor of scoring 99% on Rotten Tomatoes and is widely considered among
the best movies of the year in any genre.

Get Out is perhaps setting a trend for slightly less gore, significantly more chiller
suspense-filled horror movies that take the medium a step further by deeply engaging
with social issues. Bring on (yet another) golden age of horror cinema!