Either I’m getting old, or they don’t make scary movies like they used to. I suspect both statements are true.
When I was a teenager, I watched Children of the Corn during a sleepover at my friend’s house and fell in love with scary movies. I couldn’t get enough of them. I’d check the T.V. Guide every week to see what horror movies would be showing late at night. Then I’d dim the lights, turn up the volume, and stare at the screen with my hand over my mouth. I loved the build-up of tension and anticipation, followed by that jolt of terror when the killer loomed into view. Being a novice viewer of scary movies, everything gave me goosebumps: the ringing telephone, the cat knocking over the trash can, the friend unexpectedly knocking on the door…
But after watching dozens of horror films, perhaps even hundreds, I’m starting to get smarter about these tricks. If the movie soundtrack lowers in volume or stops altogether, a loud noise is about to blare out of the speakers. If the cameraman stops placing the character in the center of the screen, and instead keeps the character to one side with lots of background visible, the killer or some other type of monster is about to appear in that extra space. Now that I’m aware of these gimmicks, it’s much harder to catch me by surprise.
On top of that, horror movies these days seem to be less about scaring people and more about grossing people out. The likes of Hostel or the Saw franchise have upped the gross-out factor to the point where my biggest fear is that I’ll lose my lunch.
A lot of times, these more disgusting movies are based on revenge. Someone has been wronged, so this victim or the victim’s loved one gathers the perpetrators together, perhaps in a stuck elevator, an isolated cabin in the woods, or a classroom, and seeks their revenge through various methods of torture. Again, this is not scary. I didn’t wrong the person; I have nothing to fear.
Finding a modern scary movie that gives me goosebumps has become a personal quest. I’m sure these movies exist, but I can’t find them. If you know of one, let me know. I miss those goosebumps.