Should Horror and Suspense Join Forces?

What ever happened to the days when horror was complex and slow-building? Now it seems that while some films shine the light on pure horror, most rely on just jump-scares and quick emotional turns. They’ve become cheap and cliche (especially the ones centered around the paranormal).

Some recent horror films, however, seem to be incorporating more long-term suspense as well. Get Out and A Quiet Place both seem to contain elements of both horror and suspense, making both movies more complex and intense. The feeling of horror is extended, and while there are a few jump scares, those aren’t the main horror aspects. They possessed another element that gave them a memorable edge.

Now, adding elements of suspense isn’t anything new. In fact, they are so often mixed together that they are practically inseparable. But over the last decade, many horror films have lost their “suspenseful” edge. In fact, it’s gotten to the point that when a movie is classified as “suspense”, it’s short-lived, and almost like a quick moment in the movie. Many films have simply become one-dimensional horror.

But at the times when suspense is fully utilized, it works really well. The best example I can think of is Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak. The film slowly built it’s horror aspect, building a long-term suspension that grows throughout the film as the audience slowly learns of the horrors of the Sharpe family. While the film did have its “innocent and overly naive” protagonist moments, it takes time to develop the horror, being both obvious and vague at the same time. It fully takes advantage of the suspense factor, making it a standout horror film.

The same situation happened with Jordan Peele’s Get Out. The film builds its horror, but this time it leaves people in the dark until almost the end, giving more room to build suspense and anxiety as the audience tries to piece together where the source of the horror comes from. The clever use of suspense is what caused it to be so good, and memorable among audiences.

So, should horror and suspense join forces? They’ve already done that before. Rather, it’s time they re-join forces, so that horror films can go back to its roots, becoming the fully -formed and artful genre that it once was.

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