Are horror movies never scary enough?

If you’re watching a horror movie just for you to be scared, you’re watching it with your eyes half closed.

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and other social media posts (mostly reviews) about how horror movies nowadays aren’t as terrifying as they used to be. Yes, these blogs are mostly by millennials, who grew up in an era where 90s slasher films are hot — Scream, I Know What You Did Last Summer, etc., where the killer wears a mask and chases the victim while walking incredibly slow (yes, seasoned pros). A decade later, these flicks were succeeded by even gorier, crazier ones (with more special effects — thanks, technology) like the endless Saw and Final Destination series. For a certain period of time between 2002 and 2005, people fancied remakes, too — The Ring, The Grudge, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, etc. Fast forward to another decade later, it was all about evil possession, where Evil Dead, The Conjuring, Annabelle, etc. came into picture — and yes, better technology, better effects, wilder story premises. Just recently, along came another wave of socially and politically relevant horror films, such as Cloverfield, Don’t Breathe, Get Out, and A Quiet Place. Just like any other genre of film, horror movies follow a distinct trend that marks a stamp in the era they were released. And just like anything else, through time, what’s once considered a breakthrough trend becomes a norm, and that norm becomes a cliché. But the question is, have scary movies really lost their spark? Are they no longer that scary anymore? Is the genre simply tiring? Are horror movies never scary enough?

Whenever people ask me whether a horror film is scary or not (as it’s most people’s basis of watching, anyway), my standard response is always: “it depends on what your definition of scary is”. Some people define scary as killers in masks, sharp editing and swift camera movements from blank-space-camera-pan-to-sudden-focus-to-killer’s-face-with-matching-oomph-music. Some people define it as slow build-ups, mundane yet guttural tensions. Some people define it as gore, blood splattering, beheading, chainsaw ripping his insides open, etc. Moreover, some people are just too cool to be scared.

Let me tell you a story: as a kid, I was scared of getting into a bathtub full of water, because I’ve always had this mindset that I was going to drown in it anytime. Years later, I got over my bathtub phobia, and was then scared of swimming pools for the same peculiar reason. Fast-forward to my teenage years, swimming pools became a piece of cake, but my fear shifted to beaches. But then, I was exposed to traveling and summer getaways with friends and all that jazz, so the beach became a walk in the park. My fear rose to something even bigger and deeper — the ocean. And yes, that deep blue image still petrifies me up until now. Throughout those years, my fear accelerated, and the ones that I used to be scared of simply became mundane. My point is — my standard on fear has just became so high, that thinking of those what I used to fear of sounds ridiculous. Same thing with horror movies: every year, as we are bombarded with many (almost too many) horror movies, our cathartic sense to be scared becomes less and less. We ultimately see ourselves longing for that goosebumps and the chill-in-the-spine that we used to feel. To narrow my point: it’s not the horror movie… it’s you.

Remember how Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was dubbed as the scariest movie of all time back in the 1960s? Watching it now, it is, and forever will be, a cinematic masterpiece, as it defined an era of movies. It was simply a breakthrough in film-making. But as a 28-year-old guy watching it in 2018, would I consider it even a tad-bit scary? Not at all. That is why Gus Van Sant’s shot-by-shot remake of Psycho in 1998 never worked. Not only it felt outdated, but it also seemed too cartoonish. You can never replicate an era-defining film 40 years later and expect the same scare factor from it. It’s the same way that you cannot fool the 28-year-old me by pushing me in a bath tub full of water and expect the same reaction I would have given if it were 20 years ago.

My point is, you can’t say that a horror movie is a “bad one” simply because you weren’t scared of it. Sweep generalizing a horror movie’s quality solely based on it’s scare-meter is juvenile. It’s not the movie. It’s you. Whenever I watch a movie and assess its quality, I usually ask myself — How good is the writing? How awesome are the effects? How great are the actors? Did it make me feel anything new? It is void to have your purge of emotions, heavily based on time and experience, to judge a film’s greatness. To single out the how-scary-it-is factor will only frustrate you, and will ultimately ruin your viewing experience. And influencing others to not watch a horror movie just because it wasn’t scary enough for you is ruining the potential viewing experience of others, too.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not preaching to people on what should they or should they not like. Of course, we are all entitled to our opinions. I’m just saying, truly watching a movie free from personal biases is one thing, and watching a movie to make yourself feel something that you are psychologically no longer capable of feeling is another.

Don’t blame the filmmakers. Blame yourself for growing.

’10 Cloverfield Lane’ reveals international poster

Paramount Pictures has just revealed the stunning, international payoff poster of producer J.J. Abrams’ “10 Cloverfield Lane.”

Described as a “blood relative” to the 2007 smash hit “Cloverfield,” the new film stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr. The official synopsis only reads, “Monsters come in many forms.”

Dan Trachtenberg directs “10 Cloverfield Lane” from a screenplay by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken. Describing the film to Empire Magazine, Trachtenberg says, “It’s a mystery/suspense thriller. If we were in the time of Alfred Hitchcock, he would be calling this ‘a suspense picture’. It very much harkens back to that kind of movie. For me it’s fun, it’s funny, and it’s visceral and exciting and thrilling. It’s all of those things.”

Opening across the Philippines on April 6, 2016, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

J.J. Abrams awakens ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ as unofficial sequel

While he was directing, producing and co-writing a little film called “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” J.J. Abrams still found some time left over to produce Paramount Pictures’ new suspense thriller “10 Cloverfield Lane,” an “unofficial” sequel to the 2007 found-footage hit “Cloverfield” which he also produced.

Described as a mere “blood relative” to “Cloverfield,” the new film “10 Cloverfield Lane” stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr. The film’s official synopsis only reads, “Monsters come in many forms.” Dan Trachtenberg directs “10 Cloverfield Lane” from a screenplay by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken.

Q: In what aspects is “10 Cloverfield Lane” a “blood-relative” to “Cloverfield?”

J.J. Abrams: Well, there are a number of connections, some obvious, some not. Things that I want people to sort of find on their own. Some are thematic, some are genre. But what defines a Cloverfield movie is part of a kind of bigger idea we had. This is sort of part anthology and part a larger idea. And the fun of having a movie that is connected to Cloverfield, but not a literal “Cloverfield 2,” which is of course what we would have called it had it been a literal sequel. It would have been a more obviously titled sequel. This is something that hopefully if we get a shot to continue this idea that we have, we can have a lot of fun with and come clearer what constitutes a Cloverfield movie.

Q: Even though this film isn’t shot in found-footage style like “Cloverfield,” it feels, there’s a lot of moments in it that you get the same POV feeling that “Cloverfield” had. Is that one of the connections? Is that something that you’re gonna bring on hopefully to other movies?

Abrams: I think that because the premise of this movie is so strong, meaning it is so singular in point of view, I feel like one of the many cool things that Dan did was allowed the audience to vicariously experience moment to moment what Michelle is going through. And part because Mary Elizabeth Winstead is so good. And that is there’s no strategy behind that other than I think Dan telling a story very well.

Q: How did you find Dan Trachtenberg? This is a big movie to give to a first time director.

Abrams: Lindsey Weber who produced “10 Cloverfield Lane” with me knew Dan beforehand. When we were searching for the director, she brought him in. What I was mostly impressed by was the clarity and strength of his vision for how he would do this movie. He had a confidence that I think is apparent in the film. A strong sense of tension and focus and he did this really beautiful work with the actors, with the camera, with modulation. I think that the tension of the movie, it’s not just creepy and scary, but there’s a great sense of tension to the movie that I think is really all about what Dan brought to it. So I would credit Lindsey for finding him and credit Dan for what the movie is.

Q: During the making of this film, you were off filming “The Force Awakens.” How involved were you in “10 Cloverfield Lane?”

Abrams: Well, I was involved in the script stage. I was involved in what dailies sending in, notes or suggestions or trying to help whenever I could be of help to Dan and Lindsey who was on set all the time. In post I was like more involved in helping wherever Dan needed it. But again, this was something that really was Dan’s vision and I was just trying to do what a producer does, which is help out.

Q: You are not showing much of the film, marketing-wise. How does that work? Do you have a contract with the studios to have control over the marketing?

Abrams: I can only speak for our experience with Bad Robot and the marketing department, the films we worked on. And what’s been great is there’s a relationship we have the marketing departments that feel like it’s about mutual understanding and respect and strategy. And we get together very early on to discuss how we’re gonna approach what I think it is. Obviously it’s a hugely important thing, how you announce and reveal and hopefully pique interest in a story. And we made a very specific decision early on to not announce this movie a year in advance, six months in advance. We thought let’s break the template and try something new. In an age of people knowing most everything about every stage of the prep, production, post and release of a movie. And the fun of saying here comes a movie. It will be in theaters in two months. Or three months. Not give people much time to conclude to pass judgment on a movie that they could already feel that they know everything about. But rather have some fun with a movie that I think is a fun movie worth having fun with and then surprise the audience.

Opening across the Philippines on April 6, 2016, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

WATCH: ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ thrills with new clip

Brand-new images and a new clip from Paramount Pictures and producer J.J. Abrams’ “10 Cloverfield Lane” have just been released. Check out the photos below and view the clip below.

Described as a “blood relative” to the 2007 smash hit “Cloverfield,” the new film stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher, Jr. So far, the official synopsis only reads, “Monsters come in many forms.”

Dan Trachtenberg directs “10 Cloverfield Lane” from a screenplay by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken. Trachtenberg explains to Empire Magazine how the new film became a “blood relative” to “Cloverfield”:

“’Cloverfield’ was a familiar genre that was told in a very unique way. Similarly, we are a familiar genre that’s also told in a unique way. It’s not the same way: the first ‘Cloverfield’ had that awesome hook of being told in this found-footage experience. We have something else going for us that makes it unique. I think our structure’s very interesting and there’s things in it that you have to experience.”

Opening across the Philippines on April 6, 2016, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

’10 Cloverfield Lane’ TV spot goes outside the cellar

Universal Pictures has launched a new TV spot for producer J.J. Abrams’ “10 Cloverfield Lane,” the mystery thriller that’s been described by Abrams as a “blood relative” to the 2008 hit “Cloverfield.” The spot may be viewed below.

The film stars John Goodman, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and John Gallagher Jr., and so far the official synopsis only reads, “Monsters come in many forms.”

The new spot shows that, after surviving a car accident, a woman wakes up in an underground cellar. She fears she has been abducted by a survivalist, who tells her he saved her life, and that “it is not safe out there.” Uncertain what to believe, she decides she must escape, no matter what dangers she may face outside.

“10 Cloverfield Lane” surprised everyone and set the internet on fire when it uploaded its first look last January. A teaser showed Goodman, Winstead and Gallagher Jr. in a normal suburban household until a mysterious “something” disturbs the peace.

The marketing campaign for 2008’s “Cloverfield,” also produced by Abrams, was similarly secretive.

Dan Trachtenberg directs “10 Cloverfield Lane” from a screenplay by Josh Campbell and Matt Stuecken.

Opening across the Philippines on April 6, 2016, “10 Cloverfield Lane” is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.