Opinion | Why can’t horror movies be more fun?

ready or not
Dimitri Keogh, freshman screenwriting major

I’m tired of scary horror films. Don’t get me wrong, this has been a really good year for horror. Movies like “Us” and “Midsommar” have earned widespread acclaim for not only being effective horror movies, but actually great movies.

The much-anticipated “IT: Chapter 2” and “Doctor Sleep” are adding to the hype. But unbeknownst to many, the horror movie you’re going to have the most fun seeing in theatres this year was released two weeks ago.

“Ready or Not,” the new horror-comedy film, skillfully blends thrilling, gory horror with dark comedy akin to that of the Coen Brothers.

I won’t get into the merits of the film right now (if you want a full review, find me on campus), but from the moment the film begins, viewers will realize that this one is not like the others.

Almost every movie in this year’s batch of horror movies have a common theme: dark and serious. The movies focus on gritty, realistic depictions of their stories, and while that’s all fine and dandy, it doesn’t leave room for anything else.

That’s what’s different with “Ready or Not.” While the concept is twisted and dark, it takes a rather silly, over-the-top approach to the story, which offered comedic opportunities throughout, and a more fun experience overall.

I am by no means discounting “Us” or “Midsommar,” or any of the films in the horror pantheon that are dark, scary, serious and the like. I recognize their merits and I like a lot of them. But they’re just not fun. I’m sure “Saw” and “Final Destination” have a place in many hearts, but they don’t have a place in mine. Even films like “Hereditary” and “The Exorcist,” both critically acclaimed films, don’t turn the needle. They’re like homework: it’s good to watch them and I will feel accomplished after doing so, but I don’t want to spend my time doing it.

I want to watch fun horror movies, movies that relish in the silliness of their plots, are self-aware and can make viewers scream and laugh at any point. In cinemas past, audiences would enter the theatre and, 90 or so minutes later, would exit with their hearts pounding and smiles on their faces. It seems like this type of response is few and far between these days. Outside of “Ready or Not” (seriously, go see it), I have to go back to 2017 to find a movie that fits the bill, specifically speaking about “Happy Death Day” and “It.”

So why isn’t the industry making more of these kinds of movies? When you look at the box office for answers, it’s even more confusing, because these humorous horrors make money. Outside of “It”, which had a budget of $35 million, all of the horror movies listed were made for under $30 million, with “Ready or Not” being made for only $6 million. All of them doubled their budget, some even tripled them. There is a market for these movies; people go out and see them in droves. So why aren’t there more?

I suppose horror-comedies are risky, because if one part fails, the whole film goes up in smoke. But on the other hand, having such a low budget means they have the potential to become low-risk, high-reward properties.

As a fan of these types of movies, I’d like to see more. But I guess all I can do right now is re-watch “Ready or Not” and hope for the best.