‘Horror is an emotion’: Why the genre will never die

Patricia Chica has been directing dramatic art-house films for more than a decade, but it wasn’t until she got behind the lens for her first horror film three years ago, that she saw the genre’s power.

“Since I started directing horror, I have tripled my fan base and they’ve been very loyal,” said the Canadian filmmaker, who’s based in Los Angeles. “They know every single aspect of the genre and they get very protective of the genre.”

Director Patricia Chica

L.A.-based Canadian director Patricia Chica attributes the growth in popularity and success of horror films to higher quality filmmaking. (Flirt Films)

While horror has always had a strong niche audience, the genre has been seeing more widespread popularity in recent years.

High quality horror

So much so that the American television network AMC recently launched an all-horror streaming service in Canada, the U.S. and Britain, called Shudder.

“Something that’s different in the moment is better quality horror from more mainstream avenues,” says Sam Zimmerman, Shudder’s curator and the former managing editor of the horror film fan magazine Fangoria.

Shows like The Walking Dead are a big part of the renaissance, he says. The smash hit zombie apocalyse series, now in its seventh season, is the highest rated show on television. It’s heavily discussed online by devoted fans, particularly after its Oct. 23 season premiere, which nabbed over 20 million viewers anxious — and subsequently horrified — to find out who was killed off by the villain Negan.

The series American Horror Story and franchise films like Paranormal Activity and The Conjuring are also proving how viable the market is.The Conjuring 2, which centres around poltergeist spiritsgrossed $320 million US worldwide following its release in June. Its budget was a relatively modest $40 million.

Paranormal Activity, which includes six films, has been preying on fear for years and now it’s heading into more otherworldly territory: virtual reality. A game based on the films and set for release this year is being dubbed as one of the most scary screen experiences to hit the gaming world.


Presented as if it were actual amateur video footage, the first Paranormal Activity chronicles a young couple’s attempt to record evidence of the supernatural presence haunting their home. (Paramount Pictures/Associated Press)

‘Fear of the known’


Sam Zimmerman: American Werewolf in London (1981)

“You’re scared. You’re laughing. The creature is amazing.”

Patricia Chica: Maniac (2012)

“The viewing experience was out of this world. I thought it was very well done and very intelligent.”

“It’s often said horror is an emotion,” says Zimmerman. “You know it when you see it. Horror is the fear of the known. And horror has always had the privilege of reflecting our times.”

Chica is convinced that’s why the genre is reaching new heights now.

“We live in a society where we’re constantly engaged in fear, especially now in politics,” she said.

“People want to overcome their fears. It’s very addictive and very compelling.”

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