Friday, February 10, 2012

Is This a Horror Movie: CHRONICLE

Watching the movie Chronicle (which I liked very much) made me ponder a few questions. (i.e. Will there be a sequel?) But one question that really stood out is one that I should have asked myself a long time ago: What exactly is a horror movie?

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that no genre is more contentious than horror movies. If a good horror film comes out (Silence of the Lambs, for example, or The Shining), a sizable chunk of the film's fans will shout from the top of their lungs that it's not a horror movie at all. It's actually a "psychological thriller" or even a, gulp, "action drama." Why? Why do people make such a distinction? The underlying premise is that those movies aren't horror movies because they're TOO GOOD to be horror movies. They couldn't possibly be on the same shelf as Jason X or Leprechaun: Back to da Hood.

People don't say that about other genres. Just because When Harry Met Sally is 1000 times better than the latest Katherine Heigl abomination doesn't mean that When Harry Met Sally is suddenly not a romantic comedy anymore. Why do people say that Silence of the Lambs is suddenly not a horror film because there aren't enough shocks or decapitations? Stop splitting hairs and subdividing genres and accept that the horror umbrella has enough room for Saw VI and Rosemary's Baby, just like the sci-fi umbrella has enough room for both Solaris and Zardoz.

Which brings us back to Chronicle. Clearly, there's some sci-fi element going on, but there's not much actual SCIENCE in this FICTION because everything goes unexplained. So yeah, sure, this movie is arguably science fiction. However, looking at the tone of the movie, and the amount of carnage and death involved (spoiler, I guess), does this count as a horror film too? We don't really see any corpses, and the director doesn't tease us with sudden jumps or scares. But the entire movie is soaking in an ever-increasing dread. We know the main character is sliding more and more into the dark side. We know there will be murders involved. We're watching this train wreck happen in ultra-slo-mo, and it is, for all intents and purposes, horrific. So yeah, despite the sci-fi trappings, I would absolutely group this in the horror camp. It's just as much a horror movie as Carrie, because it uses a similar story structure and accomplishes the same sense of dread. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.


  1. I was wondering about categorizing this as a horror film. I'd say it's a suspense thriller but it can easily be loosely labeled a contemporary horror. The horror really comes out towards the end and has you on the edge of your seat.

  2. I agree I pondered categorizing this also. I'm neither esoteric nor a critic but I'd personally categorize as sci-fi, drama and either horror or thriller. The feeling of gloom lasts through out the entire movie even at the beginning when everyone's laughing and playing, (the seattle weather doesn't help lol).