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 Aharon Keshales, co-director of BIG BAD WOLVES (Quentin Tarantino named it his favorite film of 2013), THE ABCS OF DEATH 2, and RABIES. Keshales and co-director Navot Papushado were recently hired by Sony Pictures to remake VENGEANCE.
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?
We all want to get a a good scare when we go to a horror film. Hollywood stopped making good horror films when it became greedy and wanted to have kids at the age of 13 sitting in the audience. When Hollywood made films like THE EXORCIST, THE THING, ALIEN, JAWS, and POLTERGEIST you didn't need an alternative. But, in recent years, real fans of the genre know that they'll get better movies in the indie scene. The best horror films don't need a big budget, and that's why a lot of young directors starts off in that genre. And, when you have no set of predetermined Hollywood rules to go by, you can do just about whatever you want to do to the horror genre.
What do you think the wide release of IT FOLLOWS means for future indie horror films, if anything?
I never draw a conclusion based on one or two films. It'd be great if more and more indie horror films could do the thing IT FOLLOWS did. But, you have to remember that indie movies like IT FOLLOWS have existed long before. THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and PARANORMAL ACTIVITY are two of the finest examples the indie scene has to offer us and both of those movies became even bigger than IT FOLLOWS. It didn't change Hollywood. Hollywood just embraced those movies and made a franchise out of them.
As for the future of indie cinema, I guess it'll continue to be the best place for new and emerging talents.
Why do you believe horror films are important to cinema as a whole?
I think that a good horror film is the best showcase for a director. Unlike a lot of other genres, the horror genre demands a deep and full understanding of the art of film. Sound, camera, editing, SFX, acting - you name it. That's why the best and most valued directors made at least one horror film in their long career. Kubrick did THE SHINING, Spielberg did JAWS, Hitchcock did PSYCHO and THE BIRDS, and so on.
As for the audience, I can say for a fact that there's no better viewing experience than sitting with the right crowd and watching a great horror film. It's the best experience.
What's your favorite horror movie?
My favorite horror film is JAWS.