Last week one of the world's most prestigious sporting events took place less than one hours drive from my front door. Every two years the finest golfers in Europe take on those from the US. This year Europe edged the USA in a nail biting finish but, what if it wasn't golf? What if it was a Euro-US horror challenge? I will, over the next three posts compare and contrast the horror output for both America and Europe and decide which are better at the craft.
I will take a look at a two year period and compare the output of the regions. I won't take into account 2010 because it can take some time for non-English language films to filter through, instead let's look at 2008/2009 and, in this post we will look at the output of the US in this period.
Lots of people aren't happy with Hollywood's output in the horror genre at the moment. It's not without good reason either. It's far too easier to argue the point against American horror. In recent years the US market has been over run by unoriginal ideas, overtired franchises and unwanted remakes almost to the point of saturation. ‘Halloween 2’ seemed to prove the point as a remake of an overtired franchise filled with unoriginal ideas.
However, to think this all American horror is about would be dismissive and disrespectful to those who toil for their craft to make decent original films. In fact, the US has put out some great horror in the past few years, even if most have not been promoted as much as some of the more well known bloated turkeys that the major studios have churned out.
Take, for example, ‘The Ruins’. For anybody who hasn't seen it I recommend that you do. It's smart, well paced and original, I was surprised at how few people had seen it and it is a bit of a diamond in the rough.
However, America's good horror films don't end with carnivorous, Mexican topiary. Nor is it exclusive to little known smaller productions. ‘Zombieland’ was a big budget film, backed by a major studio, starring famous actors and featuring a celebrated cameo. Or, what about ‘Drag Me To Hell’? Sam Raimi’s tale of gypsy curses and retribution was an excellent film by a legend of the genre. It garnered some bad reviews but I have no idea why, the film was as fun and enjoyable as some of the best in recent memory. Also add ‘Paranormal Activity’ to the pile. A film that was genuinely frightening, ‘Paranormal Activity’ will make you afraid to go to sleep and ensure you don’t enter a room with the light off. It’s truly chilling and, in my opinion, more terrifying than the father of handheld horror The Blair Witch Project.
So, although there are A LOT of bad quality rip offs coming out of the United States at the moment, there are some real gems amongst them that don’t deserve to be lumped together with hackneyed horror put out to make a quick buck or million and to live off existing names or gimmicks that an audience already feels attached to. But, are these titles too few and far between to compete with Europe?