This is one of those topics that I write about from time to time because it ceases to amaze me how utterly stupid and narrow people can be when it comes to the horror genre.
I mean, let’s be straight honest here for a moment, there are biases against EVERY genre, people hate musicals, and dramas, and romances, and comedies, and on and on because people are people and for some reason you can’t just dislike something but have to actively and aggressively hate it these days. It’s the troll mentality of our culture. The mentality that hates grays and insists on living in black or white.
What makes me laugh, consistently laugh, are the directors, and writers (and I am sure other artists say the same mess but I thankfully don’t see it) who go to great pains to insist that their work, whatever it is, isn’t horror. Heavens to Betsy no. It’s a THRILLER. Or GOTHIC. Or SUPERNATURAL. Or whatever. All manner of euphemisms to get around saying something is horrific. And sure, not everything IS horror, and horror isn’t the be-all end-all but it’s the audacity of how hard people will work not to just say that a film is SCARY.
The irony is that it shows how little these people know about horror and how vast the genre is. These creators assume that horror is a man in a mask brutalizing young women. They assume that horror is nudity and gore and loud music. They assume all of the worst of the genre and forget that three are masters that can create the most devlish art with just sound and shadows or artists that can create a symphony in blood soaked halls. The people that beg off any suggest that their creation could be seen as MERELY horror are also the people who knew darn well what they were doing and should their work be a crossover hit then they’ll say, well, sure, it’s horrific but I wouldn’t say it was HORROR. They’ll lazy embrace the benefits so long as they don’t have to get their hands dirty. Heaven forbid.
These are people who use the genre for their gain but decry it when interviewed.
Much like comedy is more than fart jokes, horror is more than scantily clad co-eds being slaughtered by a maniac. It is lazy to see the most obvious examples of something and to use that as your basis for why your work isn’t like that. If it isn’t then it isn’t. Do your thing. But we tend to know what we’re making and whether what we are making is like something or not or fits into a box. If you get put into a box then you can spend your time fighting your way free or you can push the boundaries of that box outward and find the good works that yours is like. Lean into it.
The more you fight to say your work ISN’T like something then the more time you are spending not talking about why your work even matters. And honestly, most art embraces lots of aspects of humanity in order to be memorable. A comedy can be tragic. A romance can be scary. The best art sees the whole picture and can say more than one thing.
If you work harder to do that, to create work that could fall into many slots, that can speak to more than one person or…you can just spend your time crying about how people think your work is something you don’t like and tick off the hours mopping up that spilt milk.