Do you like scary movies? You’re not alone. Not since the ’80s has horror felt so ubiquitous. Turn on the television, head to the theaters, or reach for a book, and odds are you’re going to find something spooky. Even better, most of it’s pretty damn great.
Mike Flanagan’s delivered a rare Netflix masterpiece in The Haunting of Hill House, Ari Aster’s concocted a two-hour recipe for PTSD with Hereditary, and authors Riley Sager, Paul Tremblay, or Zoje Stage are prompting readers to invest in night lights.
Blame it on Trump, blame it on economics, blame it on exhaustion, or, hell, blame it on straight-up sado-masochism, but there are millions of people looking to be scared and dozens upon dozens of creatives starving to scare them.
It’s one of the better symbiotic relationships going down in pop culture right now, and especially in Hollywood. At a time when franchise filmmaking is all the rage, original storytelling appears to be unaffected by the genre. In fact, it’s only gotten stronger.
Over the last year alone, we’ve seen Jordan Peele win an Oscar for Get Out, Jim Halpert charm critics and horrorhounds alike with A Quiet Place, and fucking Nicholas Cage bludgeon his way into midnight movie cultdom with Mandy.
If that weren’t strange enough, we’re also seeing Fangoria on the shelves again, Jamie Lee Curtis eschewing any yogurt for heavy artillery in another chapter of Halloween, and Stephen King sparking major bidding wars across Hollywood.
There’s no end in sight, either. Luca Guadagnino is following up his Oscar darling Call Me By Your Name with a reimagining of Dario Argento’s Suspiria, Freddy Krueger’s on The Goldbergs, and LeBron James wants to take his talents to Crystal Lake.
With every passing day comes another chunk of horror to chew on, whether it’s something you watch, you read, you wear, you play, or you attend. After all, horror isn’t just in demand, it’s in vogue, and it’s since become a lifestyle that’s hardly fringe.
No, similar to geek culture and the proliferation of Marvel and Star Wars movies, horror has long gone mainstream, no doubt fueled by the once-rabid bite of AMC’s The Walking Dead or the ghostly blockbusters of James Wan or Jason Blum.
Unlike Marvel and Star Wars, though, horror is much more complicated to corrupt, if only because it traditionally comes from such a nuanced place. What scares you doesn’t always scare others, which is why people either love or hate most horror films.
Yet that personalization is why the genre is so enduring — you can always dig deeper — and why it’s so often compared to pornography. For many, the experience of horror goes beyond narrative and aesthetic and simply boils down to carnal desires.
Perhaps that’s why so many people want it right now. In addition to tapping into those more primal elements of humanity, horror also provides an escape, a rush of blood to the heart, the nerves, and the head. It’s a rollercoaster ride with levels of endurance.
And at a time when customization is king and on-demand is everything, there’s really no better genre around. You want something about small town killers? Check. You want true crime? Gotcha. You want monsters under the bed? Done.
It’s not that horror has gone mainstream, it’s that everyone’s caught up. Sure, there are those who don’t like to be scared, but they can be scared, and that’s just as lucrative to creatives as those who are willing to line up around the corner for it.
Right now, every day is Halloween, and everyone’s looking for a costume.