Known for their intrigues about ghosts, haunted houses, devil stories, and psychopaths, horror movies do not attract most film fanatics, which is understandable. Many works turn out either too scary, too boring and often very disappointing. But, whether you enjoy them or not, they will always be around. So what if there was a new way of making horror movies? What if it was possible to mix a few genres to create a completely new one?
Many directors sought answers to these questions, and many of them found some. Over the past decade, the horror genre has evolved a lot, and it seems like it is moving towards a new light. Because of the brilliant work of directors and writers, a completely new and unconventional genre emerged. With a mix of drama, horror, humor, and suspense, “horror thrillers,” otherwise known as “post horror” or “indie horror” movies, came to life (Bridges).
To get there, filmmakers had to defy the rules of the horror genre. In an article from The Guardian, horror movies are described as places where we like to escape our mortal and societal fears. We like to see patterns. For example, in these movies, vampires don’t have reflections; creepy old women are dangerous; haunted houses are often huge and ancient; something goes wrong when the lights are turned off, and the last one to either be killed or survive is a girl (Rose). But what if we kept the lights turned on? What if the story’s plot wasn’t in a house at night, but outside in the daylight? What if nothing was haunted, and what we would fear would be the people around us? What if we kept the same scary creatures, such as ghosts, but made them the main characters? By defying these rules and conventions, a movie can either turn out surprisingly good or inevitably bad. The only way to know if it would work is to try, which many did and succeeded beautifully.
Indeed, over the past decade, writers and directors such as Jordan Peele, Ari Aster, and Robert Eggers redefined the term “horror”. Their intrigues and cinematography seem to attract a greater audience than horror movies did before. In fact, Peele’s movie Get Out, released in 2017 and starring Daniel Kaluuya, was such a huge success that it was nominated for three Academy Awards including “Best Picture,” and won the Award for “Best Original Screenplay” ( Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences). Among other incredible movies of this genre, Aster’s Midsommar and Egger’s The Lighthouse represent very well the characteristics the post-horror genre contains: mystery, troubled characters, outside spaces, unique images, and insane plot twists. These movies often parallel real-life issues, such as racial disparity, sexism, and social class rivalry. The best example of this statement is South Korean director and writer Bong Joon-ho’s Parasite and Snowpiercer. Both works teach us the consequences of our actions and words on lower classes and minorities.
Although post horror is making a hit in cinema, the genre is also gaining popularity in television shows. American Horror Story, Stranger Things, Black Mirror, and Hannibal are crowd-pleasing American TV shows fitting into this category. They make us fear the future while questioning our past, and giving us elements of fantasy we enjoy to reassure us that the shows are only fictional.
If you are intrigued by this new genre, either because you love horror movies or hate them and want to explore something new, here is a list of a few suggestions from Mubi to get you started on your post-horror binge-watching journey!
- The Lighthouse (2019), available on Amazon Prime
- Midsommar (2019), available on Amazon Prime
- The VVitch (2016), available on Amazon Prime
- Melancholia (2011), available to rent on Amazon prime
- Get Out (2017), available on Crave
- Us (2019), available on Crave
- Hereditary (2018), available on Netflix
- 10 Coverfield Lane (2016), available on Netflix
- I’m Thinking of Ending Things (2020), available on Netflix
- Mother! (2017), available to rent on Illico on Demand
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. “The 90th Academy Awards | 2018.” Oscars.org, 4 March 2018, https://www.oscars.org/oscars/ceremonies/2018. Accessed February 18, 2021.
Bridges, J. A. “Post-horror kinships: From Goodnight Mommy to Get Out.” Bright Lights, 20 December 2018, post-horror-kinships-from-goodnight-mommy-to-get-out. Accessed February 18, 2021.
Rose, Steven. “How post-horror movies are taking over cinema.” The Guardian, 6 July 2017, post-horror-films-scary-movies-ghost-story-it-comes-at-night. Accessed February 17, 2021.
Sylvers, Joseph. “Modern-horror.” Mubi, https://mubi.com/fr/lists/post-horror. Accessed on February 18, 2021.
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