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2023 will be remembered for a lot of things, including its outstanding horror output. What does that mean for the future of the genre?

Many who sat down to watch the trailer for the new Poirot flick, A Haunting in Venice, were in for a bit of a shock. Based on Agatha Christie’s Poirot series – first started in 1920 — Hercule Poirot has always been an ‘oldie’s favorite’. But A Haunting in Venice, which debuted in September 2023, undoubtedly took things in a different direction, dropping the ‘cozy armchair detective’ genre for something a bit more horrific.

It was indicative of the year itself, in which dozens of horror movies took the world by storm, climbing their way up the box office ranks and accumulating healthier Rotten Tomatoes scores than any horror movie has been graced in recent memory.

Movies like Snow Falls, Saw X, Scream VI, When Evil Lurks, Attachment, Talk to Me, and many more managed to ignite the imagination of cinema-goers and, in the process, perhaps reignite the horror genre as a whole.

The Fall and Rise of the Horror Genre

It’s no wonder that A Haunting in Venice attempted to cash in on the trend that’s been growing for a while now. While the horror movies of the Noughties placed a little dust on the genre – we’re looking at you, Alien vs Predator – the cultural buzz around Paranormal Activity, which came out just before 2010, reigned audiences back in.

Since then, we’ve been treated to a spattering of horror marvels.

The Babadook showed that horror movies could have deep-rooted hidden meanings, Get Out proved that horror movies could form tantalizing base points for political commentary, and Hereditary demonstrated that horror movies in the 21st century could be every bit as scary as the classics.

Even the gaming world began to take notice.

While horror pokies became a popular trend in the online sphere, platform games like Resident Evil, Alien: Isolation, and Dead Space 2 became instant fan favorites on the console. The world was finding its love for horror again, and it would just take a single strong cinematic year to completely reignite the genre.

The Success of 2023

That year was 2023.

With Five Nights at Freddy’s raking in $137,275,620, Scream VI grossing $108,161,389, and the spine-tingling M3GAN topping out at $95,159,005, this has been one of the most successful box office years for the horror genre to date. Not to mention, the critics have been (mostly) enamored.

When Evil Lurks, for instance, was not just a highly rated horror movie, it was one of the highest-rated movies of 2023 in general, accumulating a critics score of 98% and an audience score of 81% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Huesera: The Bone Woman also won audiences over with its breathtaking body horror, and Attachment managed to completely spin the possession thriller genre on its head, pulling some fresh new angles out of an already well-worn subgenre.

A Year for Everyone

Skinamarink

In 2023, it’s hard to deny there was a horror movie for everyone.

For those who wanted typical popcorn-munching blockbusters, Blumhouse juggernaut Five Nights at Freddy’s and franchise heavy-hitters Scream VI, Saw X, and Evil Dead Rise played the role brilliantly. However, for those who want a little more nuance and tension to their horror flicks, movies like Attachment and When Evil Lurks were always waiting in the wings, as were indie surprises like Skinamarink and Enys Men.

This eclectic year demonstrated just how popular the horror genre could be.

Though the genre is often woefully uncelebrated and overlooked by the mainstream media, with many great horror films and stellar horror performances failing to get the recognition they deserve, it has proven it’s more than just a flash in the pan, a passing phase, or some subpar artform.

Saw 3

It’s far from a genre of cinema that hit its peak with Jack Nicholson poking his head through a door in 1980 or with Anthony Hopkins chewing fava beans and scenery in the only horror film to ever win the Oscar for Best Picture in 1991.

No, horror is instead a genre full of fresh ideas that are just waiting to be realized.

Every year, new auteurs and rising stars find fresh ways to reinvent themes as old as time and subvert tropes in ways that keep us guessing and glued to the edge of our seats. While some people may find that results in a few restless nights, horror enthusiasts know that is a very good thing that deserves to be celebrated.

What will 2024 hold for horror? Only time will tell, but the future looks bright indeed. 

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