Has the slasher genre finally come to an end? It’s 2014 and it’s fair to say that none of the heavyweights of slasher movies have thrived since the turn of the millennium. Building off foundations laid by Psycho,
John Carpenter’s Halloween inspired a series of imitators, including Friday the 13th and A Nightmare on Elm Street. Though there are many more, these three stand as the pillars of the genre. Each were a money making machine in their heyday, to the extent that New Line Cinema is known as the house that Freddy built.
However each series was driven into the ground as we moved into and past the nineties; Freddy became a pun making cartoon, Michael Myers was the pawn of a lame cult and Jason Voorhees went to space. In fairness there have been a couple bright spots since the eighties ended: Scream’s aping of the genre gave it a much needed shot in the arm, Freddy vs Jason finally happened and Jamie Lee Curtis made a triumphant return to the series that made her famous- but that’s about it.
In the last decade there have been several attempts to reboot slasher franchises, including Nightmare and Friday the 13th- both of which were failures. The 2007 Rob Zombie reboot of Halloween was a commercial success and was certainly a competently made film, but the director’s need to show continued graphic violence defied the style of the original, and veered closer to the torture porn style that has seemingly taken the slasher’s place.
Any good will that Zombie’s Halloween may have built up was quickly derailed by a dismal sequel, the rejuvenated franchises quick demise mirrored the fall of the genre it helped build. So what’s to blame for the fall of the flasher? As previously mentioned it appears that torture porn like Saw and Hostel has cornered the blood thirsty youth market and has consigned the slasher to obscurity.
Whilst there likely is some truth to this, it’s too easy to blame all of the problems on torture porn, there has to be more of a reason. Personally I believe the bigger issue is the overall lack of quality in the genre; if it’s not the first Scream, Dream Warriors or a Halloween staring Jamie Lee Curtis then it probably isn’t very good. There is only so much bad acting, lack of originality and one note characters an audience can take, and the dwindling box office returns have seemed to reflect this.
There is still hope; Carpenter’s Halloween and Dream Warriors are different approaches but still equally as good, they are the kind of movies that a slasher should be. It shouldn’t be difficult; a strong cast, smart script and a component director usually results in a good movie no matter what the genre.