Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Scary Times: How Widespread Popularity of Horror Films Is Sparking a New Level of Prestige

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Scary Times: How Widespread Popularity of Horror Films Is Sparking a New Level of Prestige

Article excerpt

Monster box office promises more horror flicks


TORONTO - Horror films were never a predisposition for director David Gordon Green, yet after 20 years of making movies he's wading into the genre that was once dismissed by his peers.

With countless loyal fans nitpicking his every move, the man behind the Jake Gyllenhaal drama "Stronger" will embark on a new chapter of the beloved "Halloween" horror franchise.

"I'm always trying to do something that's a little outside my comfort zone," said Gordon Green, whose past work includes acclaimed films "George Washington" and "Undertow."

"I want to tell stories both meaningful, abstract and absurd."

"Halloween" is just one of several languishing horror projects that's been resuscitated with a prestige filmmaker -- a trend which coincides with an explosion of popularity in scary movies at the box office.

Driven mostly by the stunning success of Stephen King's "It" and "Get Out," which have raked in $300 million and $175 million respectively in North America, it's suddenly fashionable for esteemed directors to consider making horror.

Even lower-profile titles like "Annabelle: Creation" and M. Night Shyamalan's "Split" are overshadowing non-horror films that would have once been major draws, giving movie theatre owners reason to urge Hollywood to bulk up their slate of chillers.

Such enthusiasm will almost certainly have movie executives shelling out for larger budgets designed to attract filmmakers with definitive visual styles.

Already some of the highest-regarded directors of modern art house cinema are making forays into a genre often viewed as career poison.

Luca Guadagnino is putting the finishing touches on a remake of 1976 Italian horror film "Suspiria" even as his tender European love story "Call Me By Your Name" attracts Oscar buzz.

There's also Darren Aronofsky, who captured his idea of lingering paranoia with "mother!" -- a film that divided critics and disgusted audiences with heavy symbolism amid nods to classic horror like "Rosemary's Baby."

"Battle of the Sexes" co-director Jonathan Dayton isn't surprised that horror is drawing audiences back into theatres.

"Horror is a great shared experience," he said. "It's the model achievement of a fun ride."

Dayton credited filmmakers like Jordan Peele for elevating horror by stoking conversation with "Get Out," which carries a subtext about race in America. While he admires those projects, he said that hasn't necessarily convinced him or his co-director wife, Valerie Faris, the genre is suited for them.

"Right now reality is a horror movie," he added. …

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