Let's Talk about the Different Sub-genres to Horror Films & Stories

Before I move to the actual subject at hand, can I just mention The Powerpuff Girls really quick? Cartoonnetwork is doing a marathon of The Powerpuff Girls to prepare for tomorrow’s special. I know a lot of people are worried about the special “ruining” the show’s good name since it will use a drastically different art style, but I’m not worried. I’m happy they’re doing this, The Powerpuff Girls was one of my favorite shows as a child. I’m having a lot of fun rewatching all of these episodes. It makes me want to go dig out the box set I have, because yes I have that LE box set they released of every season.

Now let’s get back to the subject….

So earlier in the day, I was talking to someone on a different site about horror and as I was talking to them, I noticed something. I noticed that they, as well as others, didn’t seem to know the sub-genres of horror very well… Or realize that horror even has sub-genres. It makes me sad but it doesn’t surprise me. Horror isn’t popular like romance. People know sub-genres to romance because it’s so wildly popular. Horror isn’t popular like that, as sad as that makes me. I wish horror got the love and recognition it deserves as a genre.

So, since I haven’t blogged in a while (I blame work), I decided that today would be a good day to make a blog about the different sub-genres to the major horror genre. For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a massive horror fan. From mild scares to scream scares, I love them all. Horror is my favorite genre and honestly, there’s a part of me that would love to become a well-known horror writer. I’m iffy on the idea of being published but that’s a different story altogether.

I’ve been a horror fan ever since I could remember. My brother is the one who got me into this actually. My brother would often babysit me when I was younger and I could remember around the age of five or six, he showed me my first horror movie, which happened to be Scream. The movie scared me, obviously as I was a child, but I liked it in an odd way. People ask me all the time why I like horror and this is the simplest answer I can give: fear can be fun.

When done right, fear can be a very enjoyable thing. The adrenaline and shock it gives you is fairly fun. I like horror that scares me, I hate horror that doesn’t. When I watch a movie or read a story, I want to be scared. I want to see something that’ll give me chills and make me feel like something is watching me. I want that fear, those chills. But that’s not the subject here.

So, let’s start with the actual subject and discuss a few sub-genres to horror. These count for both movies and stories. We’ll begin with my favorite…

This is my absolutely favorite sub-genre of horror. Unfortunately, it’s not the most popular one. It’s a very hard sub-genre to pull off, many can’t do it well but those who do… They do it amazingly. Two examples of great psychological horrors are A Tale of Two Sisters and Tormented (2011). The first is a Korean movie released in 2003 but it’s one of the best Korean films. I’ve watched it multiple times and never get tired of it. It’s an amazing movie and one worth watching. The latter, Tormented, is a psychological horror released in 2011 and it is also known as Rabbit Horror 3D. This movie, actually, I found through SCANDAL. They did the ending theme for it with their song Burn, so there’s a fun fact for you.

Psychological horror is just as it sounds, it’s psychological. It’s not about serial killers or spirits, it’s about our minds. And our minds might be the scariest place of them all. Psychological horror often deals with mental illness as well, but good writers/directors can use those disorders in a respectful yet scary way. This sub-genre largely relies on the characters’ and viewers’ fears and mental instabilities. The best part of this genre is the twists. Throughout the entire movie/story, it will make you think one thing. You will be led throughout, thinking you’ve got it all figured out until the twist comes at the end of the movie and throws you for a loop.

The twists, when used well, can leave you wondering and thinking. These movies require you to think. Information and the ending are not spoon fed to you, you must think and figure it out for yourself. But that’s what I love about them, it’s not spoon fed and it’s not direct. I love horror that gives you chills and leaves you thinking, that’s exactly what psychological horror does.

Paranormal horror is another one that is just as it sounds, it deals with the paranormal. It deals with ghosts, spirits, demons, etc.. It does not deal with vampires and werewolves, not in my opinion at least. Those are supernatural horror and I consider supernatural and paranormal horror to be two different sub-genres. Now, paranormal horror is my second favorite sub-genre after psychological horror. Two good examples of this are Wishing Stairs and One Missed Call. Wishing Stairs is a Korean movie and it is part of the Whispering Corridors series, it’s my favorite of the five movies. One Missed Call is a Japanese movie, there are three in total and the third one is my favorite.

Paranormal horror relies largely on jump scares and chills. The blood and guts is not focused on as much as it is in slasher films. Paranormal horror largely tries to leave you with chills that will make the hair on your neck stand up. They strive to make you feel like someone – or something – is watching you. They strive to make you constantly look over your shoulder and make you fear the dark – or what’s in the dark.

To me, this is one of the scariest sub-genres. I have a lot of people tell me how “wrong” I am and that slasher is the scariest (a.k.a cannibal and serial killers). I’m not wrong and neither are you. Which sub-genre is scariest is a matter of opinion and in my opinion, paranormal horror is the scariest. To me, a ghost is scarier than a serial killer. Why? Well, a serial killer is human.

Humans can be killed, you will always know how to stop them. With many paranormal horrors, especially Asian ones, the same cannot be said. Take Ju-on for example. Kayako is an unstoppable force. Once she sets her sights on you, you cannot stop her. She will haunt you until she claims your life. There is no stopping her… We’re ignoring the third English Grudge movie, okay?

For Western countries, this is the most popular genre. Most Western horrors fall under Slasher or Splatter, whereas most Asian horrors fall under the former genre, paranormal horror with the occasional psychological. Slasher films are serial killer and/or cannibal films. Slasher films are about the psychopathic killers that hunt down and brutally kill their victims. They can also include cannibals.

Here’s a fun fact about slasher films… When slasher first became a thing (the first earliest known film is 1932), it was highly controversial. Not for the blood and guts, but for the supposed misogyny. Many people called slasher misogynistic because of the brutal way women are killed in slasher films. I don’t know why anyone bothered to considering everyone, male or female, is butchered brutally in a slasher film but whatever. Of course, people disliked slasher for the sole fact it’s basically about slaughtering people brutally but you know, the misogyny thing was more fun to mention.

Now, I personally don’t find slasher to be scary. Is it disgusting? At times, yes. But scary? Hell no. Not a bit, at least not in my opinion. The idea of a psychopathic killer doesn’t scare me. It doesn’t make me jump (unless it’s a deliberate jump scare of course) and it doesn’t give me chills. It doesn’t make me feel terror in the dark and it doesn’t make me feel like something is watching me. They’re just not scary. They’re entertaining of course though.

I’ll use two classics as slasher examples. Two slasher examples are Friday the 13 and Nightmare on Elm Street.

Splatter films can also be known as “Torture porn”. Another name for them is “Gore film”. I’m sure many of you can guess what splatter films involve but if you don’t, splatter films are films that focus on the blood, the guts, and the gore. They don’t care about the scares or anything else; it’s all about the gore. Much of this is achieved by torturing characters, hence the term “torture porn”. A good example of a splatter film is Hostel. Hostel is all about the gore and the blood, nothing else.

For me, this is not a favored genre. As I said, blood and guts are not scary to me. Generally, when I watch horror, I like to watch paranormal or psychological. Now splatter is good every now and again, it’s good for when you’re in a terrible mood frankly. But I don’t want splatter too often, it’s not my preferred genre.

Found footage
This is the worst horror sub-genre. I hate found footage films. In my opinion, they are boring. In fact, I find them to be a mockery of the genre. I despise them. I cannot even give you a good example because there is no “good example”. In my opinion, there is no good found footage film. I have watched tons and not found a single one I liked.

Now, found footage is another self-explanatory name. The movies are filmed to give the viewer the feeling that the footage is very real. Now I specify movies because found footage is near impossible to do in writing, it just doesn’t work. I suppose I can see why these movies could scare people since they are meant to look “real” but they just don’t scare me. They’re too boring and low key for my tastes.

I just don’t get why people rave over these movies.

Monster movies
More self-explanatory names. Monster movies are, obviously, movies about monsters. Frankenstein might be the best example of a monster movie. That’s really all there is to say on monster movies, it’s an extremely self explanatory genre.

Supernatural horror deals with the supernatural. Things like vampires, werewolves, zombies, etc.. All of that is supernatural and thus, it fits under supernatural horror. Personally, I disagree that this should be considered horror. I just don’t see things like vampires and werewolves to be “horror”. But that’s just my humble opinion as a horror fan.

A good example of supernatural movies would be Underworld and World War Z.

Occult horror is horror that largely deals with religion. It twists and turns religion into something evil. It brings out the inner evil in religion and uses that for its horror. I can’t actually think of an occult example, so I apologize for that. Witches and witchcraft can also settle under occult.

American remakes
I kid you not, some horror fans see this as a real sub-genre of horror. Thought I would mention it here. Hollywood has such a habit of remaking foreign films that we’ve earned ourselves a small sub-genre of our own. American remakes is just as it appears, it is films that Americans remade from foreign films. Movies such as The Ring, The Grudge, Shutter, and One Missed Call are all American remakes.

So, Mibba, which horror genre is your favorite? Anyone else like psychological and paranormal horrors?
January 20th, 2014 at 12:51am