Netflix needs to get better horror films.
I love horror films but I realise that they have, historically, had a poor track record in the treatment of women. I justify my love of horror movies since, to me, this violence against women is a sad reflection of the era. Horror movies encapsulate the fears of a given time (often a fear of the empowerment of women). College girls, cut down in their nubile prime, horrible mothers that become grotesque monsters, women lose their minds to murderous ends, … etc. I say this by way of an introduction to how bad the horror films on Netflix are. I will give you a few choice examples (they include spoilers, but believe me when I say that you don’t want to see these):
1. Contracted (2013)
This is, by far, the worst of the bunch. Basically, a young woman is punished for wanting to better herself (and also for being a lesbian) with a real whopper of an STI. She is the patient zero of the zombie plague to rid us of ambitious lesbians. This film is really vile, taking us through the horror of a body rotting from the vagina out and, worse still, also moralizing to the audience about the dangers of defying conventions.
2. Shrooms (2007)
Don’t do drugs, or they will immediately turn you from a decent, Catholic schoolgirl into a murdering psycho.
3. The Canal (2014)
Beautiful women cheat. Archival film is spooky. Old houses are haunted. These are facts that we all know to be true.
4. Wolf Creek (2005)
Horrible things happen to people for no reason, there are no consequences.
5. The Ward (2011)
Crazy chicks. Being crazy.
6. Cursed (2005)
Violence and pop culture references.
7. Detention (2011)
See also number six.
8. We are what we are (2013)
Cannibal hillbillies, but boring.
9. Twixt (2011)
Vampires… uh, tween girl in danger… uh…
10. Teeth (2007)
Attack of the vagina. Nauseatingly cute soundtrack. Teenage stereotypes do stereotypical things. Some kind of message about abstinence or something, comedy?
It’s 2015, we can do better than this. Horror films can be clever, I’ve seen it. Moreover, there are plenty of old films that are so much better. To counter the above, I would like to mention some horror films that do much better:
1. Barton Fink (1991)
This film is dreamy and disturbing – examining the horrors of the artistic process.
2. Ginger Snaps (2000)
Werewolves and menstruation.
3. Tormented (1960)
Actions have consequences. This film is most interesting for it’s beautiful special effects and overall visual panache.
4. Candyman (1992)
Mixing urban legend, urban decay, and more!
5. Heavenly Creatures (1994)
True story, incredibly disturbing (especially the claymation bit).
6. An American Werewolf in London (1981)
The effects still hold up surprisingly well, and the story is as much about survivor’s guilt as werewolves.
7. Carnival of Souls (1962)
Purportedly an influence on the ___ of the Dead franchise, this movie has the right to moralize… like a beloved grandma.
8. Evil Dead (2013)
I’m as surprised as anyone that I liked the remake. A female interpretation of Ash worked out better than expected.
9. Phenomena (1985)
Pretty magical girl, but also a murder spree. Easily my favourite by Dario Argento.
10. El espinazo del diablo / The Devil’s Backbone (2001)
Ghost as metaphor.
To be fair, Netflix recently acquired a few great films: The Fly (1958), Carrie (1976), The Shining (1980), Red State (2011), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Cabin in the Woods (2011)
It definitely has some great groaners: Lake Placid (1999), Tucker and Dale vs. Evil (2010), The Faculty (1998), Zombieland (2009), Leprechaun (1993)
I even found some that I hadn’t seen which were pretty decent: The Last Days on Mars (2013), Under the Skin (2013), Mr. Jones (2013), La piel que habito (The Skin I live In) (2011)
On the whole, though, I feel like horror films need to look to the past a bit. Extreme violence does not make a film, and supposed meta humour cannot carry a poorly written script. Hitchcock and others have always been able to use good writing to make the best of limited effects. Misogyny also doesn’t have to be the main feature. So let’s see some new, clever horror films, right?