If you’ve watched pretty much any horror film in the last twenty years, you’ll be familiar with a phenomenon I like to call: “All Aah, no Choo.”
It’s a sneeze metaphor, and yes, it sounds better out loud than it looks written down but shh, listen: How many horror movies have you sat through, tensed up, clenched fists, gasping in all the right places, just waiting for that climax (I’m still talking about horror movies, get your head out the gutter), only to just see the credits roll.
Yes, it’s a cinematic trick. “Leave them wanting more,” a disembodied voice shouts jovially. Well, I call bullshit. Leaving me “wanting more” has done nothing but kill my enthusiasm for modern horror. No hyperbole, I honestly do not bother with it anymore unless the thing has some seriously wicked reviews and comes highly recommended by my pals.
The last thing I want after dedicating two hours of dark silence to a film (side note: I will only watch horror films in the dark, in silence, with absolutely no human contact – it’s the only way to get the spooks. Side note to this side note: last week I watched a horror film in an abandoned 18th century prison and if you’re a scare addict I cannot recommend it enough) anyway where was I?
Right. The LAST thing I want after committing myself for two hours of my life is to see that dreaded cut-to-black credit screen roll, with no explanation of what the hell just happened, and me screaming “BUT WHY?”
And it happens all too often. And maybe it’s just me, I mean everyone went nuts for It Follows when that came out and I was infuriated. Maybe it’s my naturally skeptical nature; maybe it’s my fascination with how things work. Maybe it’s because I was raised on early horrors, films like Poltergeist, the original “because of the Indian Burial Ground” movie. I want to know why the spooky stuff happened, and I refuse to believe I’m the only one.
It’s one of the reasons I’ve become so fond of James Wan movies. Insidious and The Conjuring have everything I look for in horror – the scares, the uncertainty, the depth – and the god-damned ending.
Sure, have the house haunted – but tell me who’s haunting it, tell me why. Fine, have a masked murderer on the loose, but give him a back story. Demons running rampant in your dreams, sure! But tell me where he came from. This box you found at a garage sale is stealing souls? AWESOME, where did it come from?
I don’t know how much longer I can take sitting in front of the screen with my arms raised, looking helplessly at my other half and shouting “but WHY?!”
Do you know, I can almost hear you screaming internally at this article from here. “But it’s a metaphor” you squeal. Mate, I get that. But this is what really trips me up. Films I’ve seen that have a subtle metaphor, the type where you end up thinking that perhaps the ghoulie wasn’t a ghoulie at all (hello Oculus, hello The Babadook), always end up with worse reviews than those which end with a lazy “it was magic, the end” (I’m looking at you, The Witch.)
Maybe it’s just me. But I like a scary film to fuck me up. I don’t want that shit out of my head for days, I want it to creep up on me when I’m alone in the dark and whisper “it could happen to you, too.” If I have no idea what the hell just happened, if all I’ve seen is a bunch of jumps and gore, it’s gonna be pretty damn forgettable.
Give me real endings. Stop murdering my love for the genre.
Give me my choo.