Halloween horror


If I wanted to get the piss scared out of me, I’d sit alone in the dark and let the existential dread lead me gently into insanity. I don’t need horror films to be scared. And if it were up to me, I’d never willingly watch one again.

Set aside all the jump scares, gore and psychological disturbance, most horror films phone in the plot in exchange for cinema-worthy scares. I don’t blame them for giving the people what they want. And by the way, what’s wrong with all of you? Why do you want this? Would you really rather sit in excruciating anticipation for someone to get bludgeoned than follow a compelling storyline?

I suppose my preference for sound content trumps special effects. And I suppose I’m just a scaredy-cat. But you can’t tell me that the vast majority of horror films have piss-poor excuses for plots. We already know that the all-too-curious hot blonde venturing into that dark corridor is getting her throat slashed sooner rather than later. We’ve been conditioned to be wary of extended silences. Since the beginning of the genre, plotlines have been chopped up and recycled — reworked with slightly fresher faces and a bigger special effects budget. But really, no radically different ideas have been presented since the days of Hitchcock and del Toro.

An entire genre dedicated to death and competing for the most gruesome gore without regard for character development or a water-tight plot? Now that’s terrifying.


Horror movies have held a special place in my heart since my brother forced me to watch “The Grudge” at the ripe, young age of four. Since then, nothing excites me more than watching movies that make my heart race and cower in my seat. Classics such as “Halloween” and Stephen King’s “It” remain top-rated films decades after their release, and that’s because they have something that modern-day horror films lack: substance. A mentally unstable killer escapes from a psychiatric institution to satisfy his insatiable hunger to kill? Gold. A creepy clown-demon haunts the lives of seven children, even after they move away to try and escape it for 30 years? Yes, please.

Films like these, and others, allow you to put yourself into absolutely terrifying situations without actually putting yourself at risk. It’s a win-win situation.

Don’t get me wrong — horror movies without a solid plot are a waste of time and money, but they make for a great form of comedy. And movies that are filled with copious jump scares are a cheap cop-out for a decent storyline. But I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about real, thought-provoking horror movies. That’s what’s exciting and makes me come back for more. Modern-day films like “A Quiet Place” and “Insidious” both have original story lines that are horrifying and captivating, yet still manage to make you second guess what could be lurking in the dark. Horror movies have been, and will remain (at least in my book), one of the most fulfilling forms of entertainment the film industry has to offer.


Zielinski oversees TNR's editorial staff and has been with The News Record since 2016. Past internships: Cincinnati Enquirer, UC College of Arts & Sciences