Horror Movie Hot Takes


Parker Hawley

It’s officially autumn, and as the temperature drops, more and more people are settling down into their blankets and participating in one activity synonymous with the season:watching horror movies. The minute that first leaf of fall drops, 71% of people under 35 rush to their TVs to watch horror movies (according to CBS).  And this year, I joined that percentage for the first time in my life.


I was never the biggest fan of horror movies in general. The idea of getting scared for fun seemed like nightmare fuel to me. But this year, I finally gave the genre a try and quickly fell in love.


I started with the 1996 Scream, and it instantly entranced me. From classics like Friday the 13th, to new hits like Dashcam, and cult classics like Killer Klowns from Outer Space. I vowed to watch them all. Over my 18 watches I would find fun in each one of them; however, over my time I would also gain numerous opinions.


One of my first major hot takes came from my early watches consisting mostly of the infamous movies of the 1980s. I watched hits such as Halloween, Friday the 13th, to A Nightmare on Elm Street and I ate up these 40+-year-old movies. However, I found that they could (at some points) be hit-or-miss.


One prime example was Friday the 13th 1, 2, and 3. While Friday the 13th franchise is one of the most recognizable franchises in horror history, the first three films  felt lazy. The basic storyline stayed the same; a bunch of teens would make out at a summer camp, and Jason would do his thing. It’s just a process of Ctrl+C and then Ctrl+V, and it makes for a poor viewing pleasure if you know the “equation,” of the film. Sometimes when a horror movie got creative, such as A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), it would feel fresh and fun. But, others (like the early Friday the 13th films and Halloween (1978)) could be predictable.


One pattern I noticed about both “older” horror movies (and even saw in more recent ones) is that sequels can kill a horror movie series, which Scream (1996) poked fun at before starting their franchise.


Much like the movies of the 80s, many horror movie sequels feel repetitive. However, this isn’t always the case. When a horror movie has a good story, it can be pure magic.


After I nearly tore my eyes off watching Friday the 13th 1-3, I was pleasantly surprised by 4-6. While 1-3 had barely any story, 4-6 had a protagonist, Tommy Jarvis, leading the way to make a good story that complimented the great scares that came from the franchise from the beginning. After watching the absolute masterpiece that is The Shining I dipped my toe into the water of its sequel Doctor Sleep which reconfirmed the fact that when horror movie sequels are used to evolve the story and not just to get money, they can be amazing. Doctor Sleep was so good and tied the two movies together so well that if I had to make a ranking, The Shining and Doctor Sleep would easily be paired together in the top 5.


Now, I have done a lot of watching of “traditional” horror movies (which is shown by my rantings of Friday the 13th and The Shining). However, I found that some of both the scariest and best movies that I watched were the fascinating found-footage horror movies.


Found footage is the idea that the fictional film is real and was found off a random camera somewhere. They can be terrifying as they feel real, and the three I watched were masterpieces.


I first indulged in the found footage classic The Blair Witch Project. It was spectacular. I had never felt scared by a horror movie after watching it. But Blair Witch had me side-eyeing the pile of laundry in my room at night. Blair Witch got me hooked on the sub-genre with its phenomenal acting, writing, and style. However, the recent film Dashcam (released this year) is easily the scariest movie I watched and has amazing acting and characters


Before I wrap everything up, I want to give some honorable mentions to the fun found footage film that was Spree, the movie with possibly my favorite villain Child’s Play (1988), the fantastic fever dream that was Killer Klowns from Outerspace, and the influential The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974).


So what did I learn from this horrifically delightful experience? I learned that horror movies have something for everyone. And while some of them may not be perfect, or not even close to it, they can still give a good scare, get some laughs (surprisingly), and can always lead you to have a good time. So, if you have some free time, popcorn, and friends to hug when you’re scared, try a horror movie. You never know what you might like. And a final note: The Conjuring was a horrendous movie that would have pained me to write. So, I would skip that one.