So, I'd been considering this the last few weeks...
...Partially because of my involvement in a number of on-going script-writing projects, partially because of the current movie and social atmospheres--and it's this: outside of niche markets, what scares the general moving-going public?
Recently at the Oscars (which I don't watch any more, been throwing shade at all awards-type shows the last couple decades, personally loath'em) "Get Out' won for Best Screenplay, while "Shape of Water" won Best Picture. For a good portion for each film, there are of course lots of outside effects, but the thing I want to touch on are what elements 'rang a bell' with the GP.
So what are those elements?
Broadly: (1) a well-told, clear, engaging story; (2) a tightly directed, well-edited film; (3) a solid cast; (4) themes and plots which resonate with the GP.
It's that last which pretty much is the culmination of the previous bits. And really thats truth for all films.
But what is it that makes a 'good' horror film for Modern Audiences?
I'm going to posit something. And it has to do with fear...underlying fear which authors like Stephen King and Clive Barker tap in to (oh and I'm quite certain there are other, newer voices, these two are just the ones I'm most familiar with).
Fear which is part of our Mundane World. Fears which we as story-tellers can also tap in to and shape and tell whatever tales we want.
So here's my thinly-sketched out supposition: Modern Audiences react deeply and fundamentally to stories which are ripped from today's news headlines--yeah, yeah, I know, that's not an old idea or conceit.
However I think this is (or at the very least we're in a place and time to tell more blunt offerings thereof): 'Race War Horror', 'Immigration Horror', 'Ultra-Nationalist Horror', 'Terrorism Horror'...and one which everyone thought had disappeared with the Cold War: 'Nuclear War Horror'.
Those are themes, broad starting plots to get to where we want to get at the meat of our stories. However, I'm really thinking that those (and other such) themes will get more play in the near-future. Hm, I just might start writing up a few scripts based on those...
What will you choose to write on?
I'm out, need more coffee, a long drag on me pipe, and perhaps a dram or three of warming single malt whiskey on these currently frigid Hawaiian days!