Horror, more than any other genre, can be further divided up into subgenres. Lots, and lots of subgenres. Supernatural. Slasher films. Monster Movies. Psychological thrillers. Then divided up even more into sub-subgenres. Cabin in the woods movies. Ghost stories. Cursed object movies. Kaiju flicks. Gothic. It’s great that Horror is so all encompassing. yet there are some grousers who will try to argue that a specific Horror film is not “really” a Horror film. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is a good example. Is it a Horror movie? Of course. But there are those who will say otherwise. I once argued with a friend who said that THE DEVIL’S REJECTS was an “action movie,” not Horror. People, if ever there was a Horror movie made, it’s THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. A film need not have anything supernatural about it to be Horror. Human monsters can be just as scary, and often moreso, than fantastical ones.
Here is an editorial wherein the author suggests that the criteria for most people in determining the horribleness of a Horror flick is whether or not they personally found it scary. Going by that criterion, I’ve never seen a Horror movie, as none of them scare me. I have never been scared by a Horror movie. Not once. I always root for the monster, see. To me, the monster is the hero.
Let’s look to the dictionary, then. What does good old Webster say about it? In a Horror movie, “frightening or unnatural things happen, i.e. dead people coming back to life or people being murdered.” Okay, but a Horror movie doesn’t HAVE to have anything unnatural happen–murder is not unnatural–and “frightening” is, as we have discussed, subjective. The Macmillan dictionary says that a Horror movie “is intended to frighten people” and that it typically includes “murders, frightening creatures, or evil people.” That’s a little better. The Collins dictionary puts it best, though. It defines a Horror flick as “a film with a frightening storyline and atmosphere.” But there’s that damn “frightening” qualifier again.
Think of it like you think of music. There’s Rock, Pop, Adult Contemporary, Alternative, Country-Western, and R&B. Any given song can occupy more than one of these categories, and frequently does. Horror, like music, is too fluid to be easily pinned down.