Fear, Inc. Review (Film, 2016) #31DaysofHorror

Scream sent the American horror industry in a very different direction upon its release. Forget about the resurgence of teen slashers in its wake or the stunt casting of a bigger name for the sole purpose of a shocking murder scene. The lasting influence still felt over 20 years later is self-referential horror. Scream is not the first horror film to mention other horror films, but it is the first that hinges on a knowledge of horror films and the most successful to do so. If you want to dive deep into self-referential horror now, you need to do something brand new with it.

Five Nights at Freddy's: The Silver Eyes Review (Book, 2015) #31DaysofHorror

The Five Nights at Freddy’s phenomenon is a game series that just took on a life of its own. The concept is simple: you are a security guard watching over the animatronics at a family restaurant. The animatronics are capable of walking on their own, but due to accidents are only permitted to walk at night. These accidents are most likely actual attacks as you have to watch a series of monitors and lock the doors on either side of your office to survive their onslaught for your first week of work.

Raw Review (Film, 2017) #31DaysofHorror

I’m going to level with you. It takes a lot for me to want to tap out of a horror film. I grew up on the genre. The owners of the local VHS shop down the street loved my interest in the genre and would rent me horror films far beyond what I should have been watching in elementary school. My family firmly believed that it was okay as long as we talked about it. Their concern was that I knew how the films worked and that they were make believe. I was practically raised on slasher films and psychological horror I knew was scary even if I didn’t understand why.

Raw, a joint French-Belgian production from writer/director Julia Ducournau, is the first film I’ve encountered in years that thoroughly tested me.

What We Do in the Shadows Review (Film, 2015) #31DaysofHorror

I have a soft spot in my heart for horror mockumentaries. There’s just something so enjoyable for me about a horror film that takes the extra step of setting itself up as an investigation of elements of the genre. I like the terrifying, serious ones like Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer or hybrid documentary/mockumentary S&Man. I also like the ridiculous slapstick ones like Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon or even the Werner Herzog-voiced cryptid feature Incident at Loch Ness. Horror requires a suspension of disbelief to buy into the concepts. A documentary style layered on top is a distancing device that can make everything feel either more intimate or more ridiculous.

Truth or Dare Review (Film, 2017) #31DaysofHorror

Do not be confused or mistaken by the following phenomena. Have you ever come across a horror film that looks just like another horror film you know is coming out? It has a similar (if not identical) title, a similar poster, and even a similar plot, but it’s not the same film. It’s a separate film that is coming out around the same time. Sometimes, it’s pure coincidence—there are only so many spins on a ghost story or a slasher. Other times, it’s intentional—there are studios who will release a slapstick shark horror/comedy to compete with each SyFy movie of the week release (or, more often, vice versa—SyFy loves their own version of a could-be hit). No matter the circumstances, just be aware that you aren’t imagining things. Horror is filled with carbon copy releases that sometimes are significantly better than the main release.