Since the early 70s’, the slasher genre has been slicing up the big screens and delivering blood-soaked screams to audiences across the world.
Its brand of horror has kept viewers entranced since its inception with A Bay of Blood in 1971, labeled one of its pioneers. This category of film is characterized by a few certain traits — usually involving a killer stalking and preying upon our main characters when an anniversary of some traumatic event comes around, usually facing a “final girl” in the last act of the movie and overall has a focus on the killer throughout the series rather than the survivors.
Moviegoers have seen numerous famous villains grace the screen such as the lifeless Michael Myers, the hockey mask-toting Jason Voorhees, the chainsaw-wielding Leatherface and the nightmare-inducing Freddy Krueger. But what have these franchises done lately? Let’s look at the status of these slashers.
Lately, the genre has been going through a mix of shakeups and return to forms. Recent successes have changed the traditional format of the genre. Whether it be a sexually transmitted killer ghost or a deadly blind man, films like It Follows (2014) and Don’t Breathe (2015) both brought some new life by offering fresh ideas. This trend continues with the sequels for two popular 2017 films that broke the box office at the time, IT: Chapter Two and Happy Death Day 2U, both set for 2019.
Of course, you can’t forget the classics. The recent redux of Halloween is more than enough proof that the conventional slasher format is alive and well. Making more than $150 million in less than a month, the film already has sequel talks in progress.
With the obvious success of the film, it unsurprisingly revives another dead franchise from its grave — a new Friday the 13th film is reportedly being co-produced by Springhill Entertainment, Lebron James’ production company, and Vertigo Entertainment.
But why are these films so popular in the first place? Kurtis Smejkal, host of the Three Angry Nerds podcast and self-proclaimed “Biggest Friday the 13th Fan,” has a few thoughts on the matter.
“Many of the best slashers give a compelling backstory for their villains. Jason is the victim of abuse, Freddy is the son of a psychopath, and so on,” Smejkal said. “Many of these villains have roots in real fears and anxieties we all face and seeing someone overcome those is cathartic, even if it means killing teens to do so.”
2018 has been stacked with new additions to the genre like Hell Fest and the sequel to 2008’s The Strangers with The Strangers: Prey at Night. Despite varying scores and some not-so-nice reviews, it is without a doubt progress that’s being made to always push the envelope with new ideas and continuing to embrace the legacy of the classics that started the craze back in the day.
No matter how badly we want to cover our eyes and turn the television off, there’s just that feeling that renders us helpless, watching our screens turn red and a killer chase after our hero is just what we need to get our hearts racing and feel more alive than ever.
Ethan Toth is co-host of Three Angry Nerds podcast.