Did it change my appreciation of horror? You bet. Do I love The Thing as much as the next nut? You bet. Point is, I was rewinding VHS tapes of I Know What You Did Last Summer long before I had any idea who in the hell John Carpenter was. By the previous generation’s standards, today’s horror sucks. Hell, by my standards today’s horror sucks. However, let us not forget that a slumber party somewhere is full of bodies quivering with anticipation at the prospect of watching Hostel. Maybe they snuck the DVD out of their older brother’s collection; maybe their parents could care less what the kids add to the Netflix queue. Maybe they strolled into Best Buy and bought the flick without incident. Whatever the circumstances, I assure you that a new generation of horror fans are cowering in fear watching the likes of Hostel.
And I hate Hostel. I think it is a terrible film, a boil upon our smooth operating genre. This love fest is coming from someone whose site’s title, Horrors Not Dead, is a direct reference to Hostel purveyor Eli Roth’s thoughts on the Cabin Fever DVD commentary. But just because I think the thing is a dreadful exercise in shock with no awe, an affliction spreading through the new harvest of horror films, that does not unsoil the pants of an adolescent batch of horror fans in the making. They eat it up and I respect that. I was first in line to see Jennifer Love Hewitt’s cleavage bounce around in a low cut top like some kind of rain dance to stave off a hook-wielding fisherman. I had poor taste once, too. So did you.
However, aside from the current cohort of horror fans loving the films we versed in the genre lambaste, I still stake the problem with today’s horror is that it is not yesterday’s horror. The space-time continuum does not yield for us. Horror films are being produced and released at an unprecedented pace. Even the most dedicated of fans, new or old, can’t keep up with the niche throughput. Factor in the excision of latitudinal and longitudinal borders thanks to the Internet, cheap international shipping rates, and region free DVD players, and, well, few can see everything.
The problem with today is its inability to simultaneously be yesterday. No one has discovered the real gems yet, the wounding 24 frames per second unhealed by time. Nothing is canonical, because nothing can be canonical in an industry of perpetual discovery. No one has time to pull back, take a breather and acknowledge just why the Spanish hit [REC] is a viral piece of cinema because they are too busy watching the trailer for the American remake re-titled Quarantine or reading about the proposed sequel. That isn’t a snide swipe at the current state of the industry, which anachronistically remakes and repackages before release even takes place. That is just the state of the game.