The tepid state of horror cinema: why movies like 'The Grudge' suck

Movies like the "Saw" series aren't scary -- they're gross and forgettable.

So, I was shelving DVDs today at Hollywood Video. I was spacing out, not really paying too much attention to the few customers still mingling around the store (it was 30 minutes before closing). There was a young couple walking the length of the new release wall, browsing our selection of premiere DVDs. I nodded politely to them with a slight smile and continued my meaningless existence as a video clerk.

The couple talked movies as they walked, and I managed to catch a few snippets. There was one bit of conversation that caught my attention -- something I found quite unsettling.

"Hey, honey, did you see 'Saw III'?"

She thought for a moment. "I don't know. I kind of remember seeing it, I guess."

Now, it seems like a normal conversation, right? Something ordinary to discuss; banal, if you will. But at the heart of this young woman's forgetfulness is the horrible truth of contemporary horror films: they totally suck. They're utterly forgettable garbage.

Now, don't get me wrong -- there are a few gems amongst the trash heap. "28 Days Later," "The Descent," "Land of the Dead," etc. These are thoroughly enjoyably, genuinely frightening films. But for every "28 Days Later," there's a "The Grudge" or a "See No Evil." And I'm not delusional; I'm well aware that crappy horror movies have been around since the dawn of cinema.

But these recent films are a new breed of terrible -- I like to call them "Teenies." The Teenies are thusly named for several reasons: 1) They're tiny and insignificant compared to other horror films; 2) They're rated PG-13 and targeted at the current MySpace generation of ticket-buyers; 3) They're terrible ... and there's a "t" in both terrible and teeny, so ... never mind.

These movies, aimed at the 12-17 age-range, are sterile, uninspired drivel. To make it past with a PG-13, they dumb down the gore, violence and actual terror to a state of non-existence, making for some very boring flicks.

So, if this young woman couldn't even remember seeing "Saw III," despite it being released just this past year, whose to say that any of these crap-piles will be remembered in a few years time? Let's hope so, while "28 Days Later" gets better with each viewing.

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