What do you look for in a horror film?

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When it comes to the horror genre there are many different ways to inject fear into the audience, and that’s what makes it so damn special. I, myself, tend to sway towards two different types of horror films: Those of the slow-burn variety and flicks that have a hefty dose of the red stuff—I’m rarely disappointed during a moment like the lawn mower scene in Dead Alive or when we see Victor Crowley tear someones face in half in Hatchet. Slow-burns can also be some of the most effective horror films out there as they build eerie tension before unleashing 2 hours worth of terror in the last few minutes.

You, on the other hand, may be less into the gory side of things or slow pacing and look for something entirely different. Some people want more out of their horror films than just blood and guts. Perhaps characters that you actually give a shit about. Or maybe a story that will leave your jaw on the floor by the time the credits roll. We all have something that we look for in this amazing genre so my question to you guys and gals is:

What do you look for in a horror film?

Sound off in the comments below and tell me what you think makes for a great horror flick!

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If you are ever attacked by a gorilla just sit back and relax while you enjoy the once in a life time feeling of your limbs being ripped off.

18 thoughts on “What do you look for in a horror film?

  1. What scares me most are films like “The Shining” and always have. It’s the fact that someone is running in terror away from someone whom is trying to kill them, but is supposed to love and care for them. I don’t know why that has always been the big thing that gets to me, but it is.
    Excellent Question, Dude. 🙂
    -B.

    1. The Shining is a perfect example of that, and one of the many reasons why it’s such an effective horror film. People themselves are truly the scariest monsters in any horror film because they are real and surround us every day.

  2. ^^^ those pictures.

    I also love a good psychological horror. Something that’s not necessarily graphic, but sticks with you and rapes your soul. I find the scariest movies to be the ones that really sit with me and grow even more insane.

    1. Lol, soul-raping psychological horror films are without a doubt some of the best. Films like BUG really have a way of clinging onto you well after they are finished. Great stuff.

  3. I’m with you Ryan I love blood, guts and gore but with a storyline. For example the conjuring I liked it but I would have liked to see more scary parts.

    1. A blood soaked horror film is always a ton of fun, especially when they’ve got a fantastic story. They tend to be harder to come by though because usually you get one or the other. The Conjuring would have been nuts with a hard R-rating.

  4. Horror is probably the only genre of film where I look for hype and reviews to guide my choices. With everything else, I avoid those things, because I feel knowledgeable enough to make my own choices. But when a horror film starts to get good buzz, that gets me interested.

  5. I like a lot of different things in horror films but one thing I stay away from rape/revenge movies. I just cannot do those. Other than that, I’m always open to viewing horror films of all kinds. The gorier the better, of course.

    1. Yes, the gorier the better! I’ve never been much of a fan of rape/revenge films either. I do enjoy Wes Craven’s The Last House on the Left, but that’s a tough one to sit through.

  6. I like horror/thriller/mystery movies for the suspense. I like to see how people react when their lives are on the line. I don’t watch horror films for the gore; the less blood you can use and it keep it suspenseful, the better. With that in mind, there are many gory horror movies I like, but I like them for the suspense and tension; they just happen to have some blood included. “High Tension” one of my favorite horror films – also, one of the bloodiest. But also, one of the most suspenseful. “Inside” is another example. Lots and lots of gore – but loaded with suspense and tension.

    I actually can’t stand the sight of blood, and often look away during excessively bloody scenes. “Saw” may be the worst as far as gore – but I love the franchise b/c of the suspense factor. Which participants will survive – and why did they find themselves in one of Jigsaw’s traps?

    I also love horror/thriller/mystery films with a great twist. “The Others” and “Orphan” are two of the best. Also, another thriller “The Hidden Face” has a twist you will not see coming that just completely changes the tone of what you’re witnessing.

    And then there are the ghost/demon films that are very effective when executed properly; “Paranormal Activity”, “Insidious” and “The Conjuring”.

    I think the best horror movies, and films in general, are the ones where you watch and you cannot detect a distinctive formula. You’re not sure what’s around the corner – and anything is possible. I have discovered that a lot of foreign thrillers are like this; “Cache”, “Sleep Tight” and “With A Friend Like Harry”, for example.

    1. Those are all great examples, man! Suspense and tension are key in a great horror film. I also love when the filmmakers leave a lot up to the audience’s imagination—something you don’t see all that often anymore.

  7. I like to see originality and a vision in the horror films I watch. I also like when there is an overall message or moral to the story – that is why horror first originated – to say things that people wouldn’t say. Frankenstein was about the overreach of science, Dracula and Jekyll and Hyde was about the monster hiding inside all of us. More recently, Cabal is about the humans being more horrible than the creatures. Hellraiser is about overindulgence of a sexual nature. I also love the creativity and vision of the special effects – monster movies don’t have to be overly scary if there is an outstanding aspect and ingenuity to the creations. Of course all of this would mean nothing if the film didn’t have great characters that could draw me into the story. I agree with GaryLee, to be scary there has to be suspense. Today’s horror-action films don’t scare me, they play more like action movies with gore than horror movies (ex:Evil Dead 2013). The suspense and tension is created when you know something is going to happen and you’re waiting for it….

    1. Very good answer, man. That’s why I enjoy slow burn horror movies so damn much. It’s all about building tension. It’s unfortunate that there aren’t very many great characters in horror movies these days. Most of the time they are just thrown into a situation just to be apart of the body count.

  8. I love atmosphere, and less is more. Don’t try to use the monster itself to scare the crap out of me, work at hinting at it and using it subtly. I love a solid story, and the horror visited on them needs to be seen, not alluded to (yeah, that be sick little old me).

    1. You’re right about that. So many horror films today think they need to shove it down our throats by showing us too much too soon. Some of the very best horror films utilize the monster just enough that way our imaginations can come up with the rest. That’s why Jaws is so damn good.

      1. It takes the mystery away! Precisely! And why The Conjuring, even though the concept has been executed so many times, was so good. It went back to relying on atmosphere to scare you!

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