The Evils of ‘Elevated Horror’ — IndieWire Critics Survey

IndieWire | 3/25/2019 | Staff
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Even before “Us” enjoyed a record-shattering opening weekend, Jordan Peele’s latest horror movie had already reignited a familiar debate among critics and cinephiles: Is “elevated horror” a real thing, or is it just a reductive way of forcing a high/low hierarchy onto a genre that has always struggled to be taken seriously? Below, 17 film critics weigh in on one of the more contentious questions of contemporary cinema.

In my experience, the term “elevated horror” usually confuses far more than it clarifies. There’s no single definition of what it means, thus causing obfuscation from the start, and it automatically adds an asterisk to an entire genre of movies; that is, implying that there needs to be a qualifying term for a horror movie that achieves high levels of acclaim or directly addresses serious topics.

Horror - Movies - Approaches - Devices - Genre

Any two horror movies can have completely different approaches to the devices of the genre they’re classified under, inasmuch as the same applies to any two movies from any other genre. A good story with an important message can be told in any format, and when we use terminology that seeks to limit what is possible, we often end up moving the discussion away from talking about the very work that we applied it to.

The concept of genre is useful to marketers who are able to condition viewers to pigeonholes, and to critics who find it cozier to compare movies to other movies rather than to everything they know. But it’s especially useful to uninspired directors trying to see how little originality they can get away with in the name of convention, which is the unfortunate reason why genre films arouse low expectations and are spoken of with a virtual asterisk. It’s also why good filmmakers are given credit for elevating something that never should have descended in...
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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