October is the one time of the year where horror becomes mainstream. As Halloween approaches, audiences are pulled towards the scary and the unsettling, and film sites begin covering and discussing the genre. It is a great time for horror fans, but once Halloween comes to a close, so too does mainstream interest in the genre. While there is nothing wrong with appreciating horror during the month of October, what is unfortunate is the dismissal of the genre the rest of the year.
Halloween is historically a time for big horror releases. It should also be a point of departure for film fans, a place to begin appreciating horror for those unfamiliar with the genre. However, this is not how it is. Horror is one of the least appreciated genres of film, and it is time for this to change.
With the exception of horror-centric film websites, horror is the underdog genre in-terms of discussion on major film sites. If a horror film does become critically acclaimed, critics and studios alike scramble to label the film as anything but. It is where sub-genre tags suddenly become very important, and horror is dismissed.
Last year’s Black Swan is a perfect example of a film that had Oscar hopes, but had to be masked as a psychological thriller to be considered for awards. Of course, you can accurately label many great horror films as such, but sub-genres can become too specific and problematic.
As fans of film, we must accept and push the fact that horror is like any other genre and has its masterpieces and failures. It should not be a genre that is dusted off every October and enjoyed and discussed for only one month of the year. It is not simply a Halloween decoration, but a genre that has produced some of the finest pieces of cinema to grace the screen.
It is not uncommon, even among film fans, to hear people express their disinterest in the genre as a whole. It is a shame, as the genre, like any other, is vast and diverse. Not all horror films are gory, and in your face, some are subtle, unsettling and in some cases even beautiful. It is a genre that could shock and surprise many who skip over horror films due to their prejudice.
This year alone, we have seen several incredible pieces of horror cinema, from Ben Wheatley’s Kill List to Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live in. While some may want to label both these films as something other than horror, they are both very much part of the horror genre.
Great horror films are shot and shown during the other eleven months of the year. Let’s make that obvious to those who choose to ignore this. As fans of horror and cinema alike, we should push to make October not just a showcase month, but the starting point for year-long appreciation of the genre that too many dismiss as simply too scary.