How Horror Reflects Societal Fears

The film is always an expression of our society. When global events happen or certain beliefs are widely accepted in our society, they influence our perceptions and, in turn, the stories we try to find or share.

The horror genre specifically expresses the anxiety and fears society has. From the escapist tales of early horror to the dark films of the 70s, top horror classics of the world would not be possible without the influence of disturbing recent events.

Let’s explore the past of horror and see how the genre has evolved in our times.

Early Horror: Folklore is transformed into a film

Although the horror genre has been an ever-dark and somber genre, the early horror films of the 1930s until 1940s were not as violent, heart-pounding movies that we are seeing nowadays. Classics from this time period such as Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll as well as Mr. Hyde — included supernatural tales that frequently included monsters, devils, and ghosts.

The films of the beginning of horror had been removed from reality. Large conflicts such as World War I and the Great Depression led to a need for escape and a more pleasing outlet for our anxieties. In films such as Dracula with its rather sexy villain, the early horror films focused less on the real world and more on mythology and religious taboos.

In the 50s and the 60s, the Horror Experiment Explores the Real

The 1950s marked the beginning of a transition towards more realistic films that were horror-related. Following the horror of a gruesome, terrifying second world war and the escalating Cold War, audiences weren’t so enthralled by the fantasies-based horror. Instead, they started to be wary of the consequences of technological advancements as well as other elements of reality. This led to the rise in horror and science fiction films such as Psycho as well as Rosemary’s Babies.

The time of horror also saw the rise of a particular segment of science-fiction horror that was centered around aliens, such as in films like The Thing From Another World because of the emergence of widespread UFO sightings. Alien films were especially popular during this period, although themes of space and aliens remain popular today.

The advancements that were pioneered by NASA and SpaceX like robot insect droids blur the lines between fact and fiction, the horror genre will continue to evolve on the popular theme from the 50s and 60s and adapt to the latest discoveries that are evident in more contemporary films like Body Snatchers.

The 70s and the 80s The rise of violence and darkness

In the years when the U.S. experienced an increase in the number of violent crimes in the wake of the Vietnam War, many gruesome details were shown on television, and the horror genre grew more realistic and dark. Slasher films expressed the public’s terror of horror in idyllic environments in The 13th of July the murderer is brought to a summer camp, as well as In The Shining in bringing dark to a hotel within a picturesque scene.

This period of horror also saw an increase in movies which dealt with the unknown such as Alien as well as Jaws looking into deep ocean and space depths that were unexplored. The fear of the widespread decline in Christian morality also inspired classic films such as The Exorcist and The Omen.

The 1990s, as well as the 2000s New Horror Culture, Takes Form

One of the most significant examples of how horror is a reflection of the fears of society is the fact that the 90s, as well as the early 2000s, experienced a decrease in the number of horror movies. Since global conflicts were less prevalent than in previous times, slasher films were not as successful as they had been before. The time didn’t offer major themes, but remakes were not uncommon.

Instead than that, the occasional horror film became popular because of its deviation from the standard. Scream became a hit in meta-horror. Meanwhile, films such as Ring and The Blair Witch Project put new spins on the supernatural.

As people started to recover from the trauma of that September 11 attack, the decade of 2000 was marked by a pessimistic, anxious outlook on the future. Extremely violent films were dubbed “torture porn” (like Saw and Wolf Creek) and gained prominence.

In the same way, apocalyptic film genres were a huge success. While bioengineering has proved to be a positive force within our society but it was at first an unsettling concept that inspired the creation of genre-defining zombie movies such as The 28 Days later. The legacy of the concept could lead to new horror genres emerging around it.

Modern Horror: The Villain isn’t as clear

The fear of major conflicts such as world wars continues to diminish the heroes of horror films who do not have to contend with killers or monsters. This is a reflection of the more widespread concerns of the 2010s and the 2020s (like the aforementioned social inequities, fake news as well as cyber-attacks) horror films are often dealing with unclear enemies and villains that lack a physical form.

For instance, Take the example of getting In as well as Parasite takes on social issues with aplomb. Horror films are also becoming more enthralling with more genre-bending and psychological elements, in addition to advanced visuals.

Horror is ever-changing

As new global challenges emerge and new issues arise, we will likely experience this genre reflecting these issues more strongly. After the global pandemic as well as problems like anxiety, insomnia, and depression that were brought on by COVID-19 A current wave of new horror movies could be a reflection of changes in the individual’s anxieties and social interactions. In addition, as social divides and systemic issues are thrust into the limelight, horror films will also change.

What are your thoughts on horror through the decades? What do you think the next big trend will be? Do let us know in the comments below, we’d love to hear from you!



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