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Sunday, April 12, 2015

From the Mouths of Horror Filmmakers #1: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Justin Benson (left) and Aaron Moorhead (right)
October 14, 2014 - Source: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images Europe)

With the success of IT FOLLOWS and the recent discussions it has sparked about the number of original, critically-acclaimed indie horror films being released, I wanted to reach out to some of the most original voices in horror cinema to ask them a few questions about the state of horror cinema today and why they believe there has been a resurgence of sorts of great horror.

The responses below are from Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, co-directors of SPRING (in theaters and on VOD now) and RESOLUTION.

Why do you believe there has been a surge of critically-acclaimed horror films recently like IT FOLLOWS, THE BABADOOK, YOU'RE NEXT, and others?
A & J: It could have something to do with VOD. You no longer need to spend millions of dollars on marketing to make movies profitable. Maybe making a movie for around 500K and marketing it for about a 100K allows for more risks to be taken, and with a few exceptions, it seems genre films need to do something new to get this acclaim. The great exception of course is The Conjuring, which did massively well critically and financially with a more classical approach. Another thing is that we're discovering that genre audiences are way smarter than the common big budget horror films presume them to be. The old idea that "I know what horror audiences want and it's immediate, frequent jump scares, boobs and blood" is slowly getting proven an old fashioned way of making these films that limits their success. 
What do you think the wide release of IT FOLLOWS means for future indie horror films, if anything?
A & J: We hope it means more people creating their own mythologies outside the half dozen or so that have been re-used quite a bit, and just generally continuing the trend of doing something new even if it means not having the financial security of, for example, a zombie or vampire film. That said, What We Do in The Shadows was one of the best films we saw last year. 
Why do you believe horror films are important to cinema as a whole?
A & J: Horror at its best has been the place where filmmakers shake up the status quo from both a technical and storytelling standpoint, with an objective of intense emotional response. Whether that intended response is laughter or intense fear, one of the most profound things a movie can do is create an emotion. All films that do this are equally important, but horror comes with the additional tradition of being a bit punk rock with how one achieves this.
What's your favorite horror movie?
A & J: Tie between The Exorcist, Kill List, and Wake In Fright 

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