Getting people into genres – Horror
As an avid film fan, nothing pleases me more than introducing friends and family to a lesser known film that becomes their new favourite, and I am sure that most of our readers share this same simple pleasure. However, there are times when our uneducated friends (only when it comes to film, I’m not saying our friends are stupid!) will refuse to watch a film based on their personal preferences or feelings towards a specific genre or actor. It is often far easier to give in and submit to watching the latest blockbuster to appease their needs but I love the challenge of gradually opening someone’s eyes to the incredible variety of films that are out there. In this guide I will tackle a number of genres and describe my tactics of how to sneakily get someone to enjoy a genre they would normally avoid at all costs.
Horror is my favourite genre and I enjoy nothing more than plunging an unsuspecting friend/victim head first into films such as Inside or [Rec] to see how they can handle the more intense films of the genre. However, this is a somewhat cruel, if entertaining, approach, which may put the viewer off horror films for a long time to come, so here is my guide to a gentle approach which should turn most scaredy cats into intrepid horror fans if all goes well.
This is one of the most difficult genres to turn people on to; if someone dislikes being terrified and doesn’t get their kicks from the twisted humour of the genre then it can take a lot of work to persuade them to watch anything even remotely scary. Although dark humour is synonymous with the genre there are films out there which take a broader approach to their laughs, and the combination of horror with comedy is the perfect place to begin as this can lessen the impact of the scares and allow our viewer to enjoy a film they would usually shy away from.
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Why it works – It’s a classic kids film about Christmas, who can resist the charms of Tim Burton? You could also try Frankenweenie or Corpse Bride because if our viewer enjoys a Tim Burton film we can gradually point them in the direction of his darker, more adult orientated films.
Follow up with - Beetlejuice and Sleepy Hollow – Beetlejuice is hilarious and our viewer will probably soon forget they are watching a film about a ghost trying to rid the living from a crooked old house. Sleepy Hollow is much darker but the kooky charms of Johnny Depp and Burton should hopefully help our viewer to keep their eyes on the screen until the credits, and numerous heads, roll.
Why it works – This eighties classic has a universal appeal and whilst there are a few frightening scenes which may unnerve our viewer it is not straight up horror, and the comic aspect of the film will ensure they don’t end up reaching for the remote. The sequel is not quite up to scratch but can subject our viewer to more ghosts and ghouls if they enjoy the original and best.
Follow up with – Gremlins and The Hole – Gremlins is another fun eighties film that delivers a few unsettling sequences without being overly scary, and if our viewer enjoys this you should be ready to try out another Joe Dante horror, albeit one that relinquishes the laughs but is aimed at a younger audience and shouldn’t intimidate newcomers to the genre.
Shaun of the Dead
Why it Works – It’s a comedy starring those loveable rogues Simon Pegg and Nick Frost which is directed by the man who brought us Scott Pilgrim and Hot Fuzz! Despite the film revolving around the walking dead, the subject is broached in such a way that the elements of horror are unlikely to perturb even the most easily scared, and it is best pitched as a comedy to our unsuspecting viewer.
Follow up with – Zombieland and Tucker and Dale Vs Evil – Once our viewer has realised that films which make light of the horror genre can be very entertaining, you can up the ante with similar films that feature more gore and a few edge of your seat moments such as these two. Before you know it, you could be enjoying films such as Bad Taste and The Evil Dead together.
The Lost Boys
Why it works – In a world where there have been five twilight films, vampires and werewolves are no longer viewed as the same frightening creatures they once were, and we can take advantage of this by introducing our viewer to another teen vampire movie, even if it is darker than the aforementioned franchise. Almost everyone is familiar with The Goonies or Stand by Me, so it should be easy enough to get our viewer to watch another great film with a young cast featuring the likes of Corey Feldman and Kiefer Sutherland.
Follow up with – Interview with A Vampire and Let the Right One In – More adult orientated whilst looking at a similar aspect of the supernatural, the storytelling in these films takes precedent over the horror elements, meaning that our viewer is gradually introduced to some of the darker aspects of the genre. Both have their fair share of gruesome scenes but by this time our viewer should be more immune to such sequences.
Why it works – Pan’s Labyrinth is not a horror but contains a few unsettling sequences that would not be out-of-place in a horror film and the story is so compelling our viewer should overlook these creepy moments. As it combines a number of genres you can easily push it upon our viewer as a fantasy or a war film depending on their preferences, and if they end up enjoying the dark style of Del Toro our job will be made much easier.
Follow up with – The Devil’s Backbone and The Orphanage – Don’t get me wrong, these can be very creepy films, but the stories are both told in such a way that spirits are portrayed in a positive light and as beings that are not out to harm humans. If our viewer can sit through these it will open up the possibilities for more terrifying films, and maybe we can eventually move onto films that are bleak, depressing, and downright nasty…
So there you have it, what are you waiting for? Get out there and turn some unsuspecting sceptics into horror fans, it’s easier than it sounds and if you have success with any other films I will be interested to hear which films work for you.