Dark shadows, eerie music and subhuman spooks; the new breed of horror films sweeping the Australian small screen are leaving audiences scared of dark hallways and what lurks behind the bedroom door.
A new study from Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, in conjunction with Dr Mark Ryan from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), uncovered that Australians are ready to embrace a new type of horror, as the ‘torture porn’ themes of the noughties make room for an ‘inferred fear’ style of horror.
Commissioned for the home entertainment release of terrifying horror films ”Mama” and ”Evil Dead” on Blu-‐ray™, DVD and UltraViolet™ in July, the study revealed that ‘creep out’ films that unnerve the senses are trending again. Fright Spectrum Dr Mark Ryan, from QUT, who is an expert on the horror film genre in Australia says: “Since the mid-‐2000s the horror genre was dominated by what has been labeled the torture porn cycle, movies like gruesome and chaotic Evil Dead, Wolf Creek and the Saw franchise. While torture porn will always have a cult like following, we’re at the end of a long cycle of highly violent movies and the genre is working out a way forward.
“There is a long list of horror sub-‐genres from werewolf, zombie and vampire movies, to slasher, splatter and cannibal horror, all of which have fluctuated in and out of fashion over the years.
“A horror movie is like a cinematic version of a thrill ride. People watch them to be scared and in the process they get an adrenaline rush, in the same way you get a rush of adrenaline from the thrilling experience of hanging upside down in a rollercoaster.
“Moving away from the 80s slasher horror films that were all about the body count and the suggested fear and teen slasher movies of the 90s, Australia is ready to re-‐visit implied fear with films like Mama that play with spine-‐tingling suspense, the fear of the unknown, unnerving music and shady characters,” Dr Ryan said.
“While the horror film category moves into a period of inferred fear with films like Mama, it is difficult to say what the next phase will be as this is commonly determined by something that hasn’t been done before; something that reignites passion for the genre and sparks copycat filmmakers.”
Managing Director of Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Jim Batchelor, says: “It is an exciting time for the horror category because consumers are not quite sure what to expect next.
“Horror films have a passionate, cult like following. This audience drives the genre forward into new, unmarked territory – they hunt for the next film that will push them to the edge of suspense and unchartered severity. We’re feeding them just that with our upcoming slate of horror titles such as Evil Dead, Mama and Curse of Chucky.”
Cultural fears that inspire passion for our own horror movies and shed light on the nation’s cultural anxieties, is the fear of monstrous landscapes and killer animals that are present in films like Wolf Creek and Swerve among many others. “Australia is a largely secular country, so unlike Asian or European nations there are no deep-‐seeded fears or superstitions that arise from religious beliefs or supernatural folklore. There are not as many monsters or ghosts from the past looking to haunt us. Looking at the most popular horror movies at the Australian box-‐office since 1992, moody, atmospheric and psychological horror films such as the Sixth Sense, The Others and Paranormal Activity that try to ‘creep out’ audiences have been more popular than extremely violent movies that try to gross out audiences,” Dr Ryan said.
Universal Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases horror films ”Mama” on 11 July and ”Evil Dead” on 25 July on Blu-‐ray™, DVD and UltraViolet™ coining July as ‘Horror Month’.