As October reaches its end, “Spooky Season” starts to take the country by storm. Many choose to embrace Halloween by marathoning Horror movies about haunted houses and tormented teenagers. But there are many who raise an eyebrow at the unrealistic gore, yell at the idiotic characters, and roll their eyes at the jump scares riddled in every classic scary movie. Luckily, there are scary and Halloween-related movies for those who hate the horror genre.
The best opponent to horror movies is the deconstruction of the genre, self-aware observations like, “The Cabin In The Woods”, a film centered on a group of friends’ strange trip to the woods. Written and directed by the same writers of “Buffy: The Vampire Slayer”, the film pokes fun at both the typical premise of the ridiculous villain monster and the cliche archetypes found in every horror movie.
Director Drew Goddard said that “The Cabin In The Woods” is not only a critique of the horror genre, but of the fans of horror movies who enjoy watching the gore and death.
“It’s more a critique of society,” he commented. “Why do we feel this need to idealize youth, and then slaughter them? What is it about that that is so satisfying to us as viewers?”
But, if self-awareness and stereotype deconstruction is too reminiscent of the traditional cliches, another option is a psychological thriller that finds terror in a movie monster and a real life fear. “Donnie Darko” fulfills this genre through the adolescent protagonist’s external struggle of saving the world while also facing real anxieties of growing up.
Director Richard Kelly claimed that most of Donnie’s internal conflicts reflected his own adolescent and adult fears, even setting the movie during the 1980s because that’s when he was a teenager.
“It’s probably much more of an autobiographical film than people realize, and I’ve pretty much been able to reconcile that now that I’m much older,” he said.
While the film does show humanity in the characters, there are still horror elements, like a man-sized bunny that can turn one off from the movie entirely. If the movie is too ridiculous or scary, just focus on the fact that a young Jake Gyllenhall and Seth Rogen are in the same movie as Patrick Swayze.
Still, there are Halloween movies that avoid scares entirely, relying on goofy plots and comedy, like the fan favorite “Beetlejuice”. While Tim Burton has other campy Halloween movies like “The Nightmare Before Christmas”, his work on “Beetlejuice” builds upon horror concepts.
According to a Collider.com article, the original script included darker themes of murder and rape by the title character Beetlejuice, but the entire movie was revised by writers Michael McDowell and Warren Skarren who shaped the film into more of the comedy as we know it today. Due to its horror roots and humorous influence, the movie is able to deal with death in a goofy way involving visual gags and dancing sequences without infringing on any scary movie tropes and clichés.
As we enter the height of the same scary movies appearing on every streaming service, don’t forget about these other Halloween classics that don’t bore audiences with the same plot.
Sources: Collider.com, Quartz.com, Filmmakermagazine.com