When it comes to horror it seems as if it has been dissected and bisected and pulled apart and examined under the brightest lights. Every movie that comes out is part of a subgenre or a subsubgenre. It falls into this category or is dropped into that bucket.
When it comes to horror, we fans know what’s coming just from a few images or a name.
We take pleasure in knowing what we’re getting into even as we clamor to be surprised. We may not want to know exactly what’s in the present but we want to know what sort of present it is before we open it.
All that being said, we love to rail on these subgenres at the same time we pick them all out and hold them up for all to see. We force ourselves into camps where we either decry or cheer on these subgenres.
And on and on and on.
We hate the genre we love as much as we hate it.
As soon as a vampire film does well we’re bound to see half a dozen other ones following in its footsteps.
Ours is a genre that imitates itself over and over again.
If you have been a fan long enough you have seen trends come and go and come back again. It’s been honestly fascinating to see how zombies have sorta stayed trendy over the past twenty years.
I say twenty years because I started working on a zombie book in the very early ‘00’s and stopped writing it because I didn’t want to be the last one out with a book about something people had moved past.
Imagine my surprise when zombies didn’t fall out of favor but, with The Walking Dead, got even more popular. I said to heck with it and finished writing the book and put it out and it’s been out for, jeepers around ten years now and zombies are STILL going strong.
Though they are not as beloved as they once were.
Zombies, like every other horror trope/villain, gets old.
We get tired of them.
We need a break.
It’s us, not you, zombies.
The thing is though, that the reason we get tired of them is that we don’t get new stories with the walking dead but the same sorts of stories over and over again.
End of the world tales where a small band of survivors are trying to beat the odds and discover or create civilization.
The living dead are so inherently tied to the end times that we just can’t seem to see past that.
Heck, my book isn’t any different in that, really, but it could be.
And there, is the thing.
Zombies are my example here but you can take any trope and swap it out and honestly, what we get sick of is seeing the same story and same themes told over and over and over. We forget that you can think outside of the box, or coffin in this case. Take the film, I, ZOMBIE, which is a very somber film about someone becoming the living dead. It’s not so much about the end of the world or conquest of mankind as much as about one person’s loss of themselves. Zombies are interesting in that they are US, but us in an exaggerated way. They are the monsters most like us so we can examine ourselves while telling a horrific story.
But the thing here is that zombies are not the issue, lazy storytelling is.
Not looking for other ways to tell stories about the dead is the problem.
If you have a story to tell, then you tell it, and that’s all there is to it. But try to tell the story in a way that’s not imitative of what everyone else is doing.
Horror fans are pretty forgiving, and truly, all we want are good, scary movies. Give us that and we’re pretty good.
Zombies are not scary anymore though because they have been used over and over again in the same ways and so we get bored with them.
What we need to do then is dig deeper and look harder to see what we can do if we’re drawn that desperately to a trope that is getting worn out for the time being.
We need to challenge ourselves to see what else we can do.
ANNA AND THE APOCALYPSE is a zombie film that is just like a load of other properties but it’s a musical, and a good one, so that makes it really stand out.
We got bored with vampires in the same way because no one was doing anything different with them.
We need to change it up or we just beat these tropes into the ground and kill that subgenre indefinitely as no one will want to see more of those films or finance them for a few cycles.
Yeah, zombies have been going for a while so they could use a breather but if a great, original zombie movie came along I can’t say that I’d be sad about it because good is good.
With so many ways to scare people though, it’s nice to have a little variety from time to time.