This year’s Oscar nominations were disappointing to say the least, though one genre suffers the most from the Oscars’ snubs: Horror. The 2019 and 2020 Oscars passed on some outstanding stories, like “Us,” “Hereditary,” and “Midsommar”, with excellent performances from Lupita Nyong’o, Toni Collette, and Florence Pugh — so why do the Oscars ignore the horror genre?
I, a self-proclaimed expert of horror after one WRT 105 class about horror and comic books, am obviously the best person for the job.
The horror genre is complex and is still defining itself. Its main mission is considered to be to deliver good heart-pumping terror. While for some films this is true, the style has been used for a more sinister purpose for decades.
You may not think much of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” a movie about a happy go-lucky family of cannibals who chase a group of young-adults with chainsaws. But what if I told you that “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” is actually a commentary on classicism in America and the forgotten rural lower class?
Horror is the perfect delivery system for commentary about society and culture. It can create an environment that doesn’t follow the rules of rationality and science, so in order to understand the story you have to pay close attention to what is happening.
Viewers allow themselves to be absorbed by the story and not expect a subtle commentary on the history of mistreatment of mental health in America.
“Get Out” is a conversation about race in America today, but it is also a puzzle the viewer has to put together. In order to understand the plot of “Get Out,” the viewer has to pay attention to minuscule details, and in those details is a story about race, history, and “post-racial” America.
While “Get Out” is less subtle than other horror movies, they function in a similar way. Horror can be used to make allegories about gender, mental health, race, sex, or any topic considered taboo.
Another aspect that is important to consider is how horror is technically very experimental. There are very few limits in the horror genre due to the lack of tethering to reality. This allows for some nontraditional sound mixing, lighting, and camera shots. These tests can be poorly made, but others can be revolutionary. “Midsommar” was able to explore what a horror movie set in constant daylight can be. Horror gives a chance to try new ideas and techniques for the film industry.
Horror is a toddler and it is still growing. Some of these blossoming flowers surpass others, though, and that should be recognized. There are amazing developments and stories being incorporated into horror, and that should be recognized by the Oscars to protect its integrity. If film is being used to expand the views and minds of its watchers, then should it not be rewarded? If it is taking risks and changing how films are made, then should it not be rewarded?
If it was a thriller or a drama, would it be rewarded? The Oscars can only answer for themselves in the next decade.