Every year, for us at least, is “The Year of Horror”. Even the terrible years of our lives are filled with great horror films that have helped us survive until January 1st rolled came along. It is rare, however, for mainstream news outlets and pop culture to embrace the horror genre as much as they have this year. Horror films have grossed over $1 Billion at the box office, led by Andy Muschietti’s It and Jordan Peele’s Get Out. Both films are garnering awards buzz (Get Out is, deservedly, garnering the lion’s share of that buzz) and have become iconic in our culture. Films like Happy Death Day and Annabelle: Creation have grossed huge numbers and kept their studios in the black.
Now that the year is coming to a close, a lot of websites and publications are writing their year-in-review pieces. One piece, in particular, has grabbed our attention here at Nightmare on Film Street. In their article published Thursday, The New York Times Magazine has christened 2017 “The Year of Horror” and is celebrating the genre with some amazing photos and short films.
In an opening written by journalistic heavyweights A.O. Scott and Wesley Morris, the article tries to understand why the horror genre was so successful this year. They posit that horror was not an escape as many claim that it is, but more of a mirror that we used to explain what we saw around us every day. The world is on edge and there are monsters everywhere, so where else would we go but to horror to show us that things could, in fact, be worse. Horror, they explain:
“… is somewhat allegorical, a way of giving shape to abstractions. Monsters, demons, ghosts, psycho killers, that homicidal clown all pop out of the Pandora’s box of the collective unconscious, as our tormentors and our proxies. For all the supernaturalism attached to horror, the real source of the terror is usually us — or folks more or less like us.”
Beautifully photographed and filmed by music video master and director of The Runaways Floria Sigismondi, the NYTM assembled some of Hollywood’s finest talents to re-create our favorite horror tropes. Jake Gyllenhaal, Nicole Kidman, Andy Serkis and Tiffany Haddish are just a few of the actors that took part in the project. Each photo was accompanied by a short description of the trope the character was supposed to represent and a short one-or-two minute film showcasing the talents of director and actors alike. Here are some of our favorites from “The Year of Horror” shoot:
Nicole Kidman as “The Possessed”
“We had one take, because once the eggs and the flour and the milk were used, it was going to go all over her and all over her hair, and so she played this for three minutes straight. In those three minutes, you could see all the changes — from frustration to possession to orgasmic experience.”– Floria Sigismondi
Andy Serkis as “The Demented Clown“
“Clowns are scary, because they’re supposed to make you laugh, but they’re also hiding something.” -F.S.
Daniel Kaluuya as “The Psycho Killer“
“He knows what he’s done, and he’s watching television. The bloody hand is a great revenge twist. The scene ends with a question mark.” – F.S.
Tiffany Haddish as “The Macabre Dancer“
“It’s the idea of a dance with mortality and flirting with that relationship and turning it into something where you’ve got the upper hand. There’s a power play with death turned into art.”- F.S.
Jake Gyllenhaal as “The Damned“
“I thought of Tom Waits as Renfield in Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Dracula.’ He’s in a padded cell, and he feels Dracula talking to him — he knows the master is coming.”- F.S.
You can head over to the NYTM website to view the amazing short films shot for each character. I, for one, am glad that it’s not just specific horror films that are getting noticed, but the horror genre in general is being celebrated this year. The magazine has called 2017 “The Year of Horror”, but here’s to repeating that title in 2018.