Art by Elle Shivers
I used to be so patient with horror movies. I’ve had to be, in the early years of this decade when the post-Paranormal Activity landscape still favored the supernatural, giving way to the likes of The Conjuring, Insidious, and Unfriended. I preferred something more grounded, more human: psychological horror and slashers, but very few of those were getting made at the time.
So I risked wasting my time (which, spoiler alert, I did) with the small crop of low-budget productions that did fit the bill. If it had a masked maniac and a body count, I didn’t care, I was going to check it out. Who knew, right? But to nobody’s surprise, least of all mine, most of them ended up being poorly written, poorly acted, and poorly made. I knew better, eventually.
Well-made, major-studio horror has been hard to come by in the 2010s, sporadic and repetitive. Every year, you could count the ones worth seeing on one hand — two, if you’re lucky. Sometimes, it felt like horror as I knew it had disappeared, and I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop and I’d find it dead, like that dummy who says “I’ll be right back” in one scene only to turn up later as a corpse.
But maybe I was wrong, and horror has just been waiting to rise from the grave all along.
This year, we’ve gotten a buzzed-about scary movie with recognizable names attached practically every month: Escape Room, Happy Death Day 2U, Velvet Buzzsaw, Us. There are plenty more from this summer alone, spanning April to July and released within weeks or days of each other.