We all know the drill. Horror films are deritive, exploitative and formulaic and have nothing of substance to offer beyond the disconcerting jolt or shock. They have as much right to be considered great cinema as porn does, as they both explore the same thing. Is this true? Well to a certain extent, as there's no denying that horror is there to appeal to our baser instincts. But isn't everything. If a film doesn't trigger at least one base emotional response then it seems that critics and audiences have very little use for it. If it doesn't make you laugh or cry or experience 'growth' then its a failure. It wouldn't matter if it was making excellent points about the nature of reailty or religion or some such intellectual endeavour, if there's no emotional connection then f*ck that sh*t. We celebrate when these more innocent emotions and feelings are manipulated by films. But when darker ones are brought to the fore, as in horror, we condemn it. I don't know if its the fact that we are unable to admit, for all its depravity, that violence is a form of entertainment that in cinema we undeniably enjoy. Whether its to do with the excess of the genre, that in many places deals with disgust as entertainment. Which at first thought seems silly, but frankly its only a couples of shades difference from embarrasment as entertainment. Something anyone who has ever watched the Office, or This is Spinal Tap will testify to being awesome.
So, if we can get over our natural leaning toward repression and view these films on fairer terms, are they still terrible As even the most nihilistic, scariest psychopath in the world will still think that Resident Evil: Apocalypse is shit, right. Yes. Yes he would. Because the problem with the genre is the sheer amount of crap that comes out of it. It produces as many masterpieces and great films as any other genre, but it produces a hell of a lot more crap. And people tend to identify it with this drivel rather then with its shinier moments. You think horror, you think straight to video slashers starring Clint Howard. You think Americanisations of The Ring or The Vanishing. One has to accept that the median level for horror films is low, but it seems a shame to judge a genre by the worst it has to offer, but this is what we seem to do. And we let this negative attitude seep into how we view the better examples.
To conclude the argument for saying horror has nothing to offer can be refuted along the same lines as the one that says movies now are much worse then they were 60 years ago. There are much more films being made now then there were then, which means more good and more bad. But we seem to focus on there being more bad films then there being more good ones. Ditto with horror movies.