Elevator-Pitch Horror is here to stay

It crawled for a while now, an old breed of horror. A film here, another there. But now, in 2022, the time has come to give it a name: Elevator Horror.

These films are exactly what they sound like: you can sum up their conceit in one breath. Creepy Airbnb house? Check (Barbaric). An infectious, dishonest smile that will kill you in seven days? OKAY (Smile)! Maybe it’s haunted Zoom calls (Host) or an aging beach (Old woman). Or a series of gruesome murders on a porn set (x). And for next year, a comedy filmed in the genre: a bear on cocaine (cocaine bear)! Not all of them came out this year, but it definitely feels like the pinnacle of the concept.

These are not new genres of films. You will already have a favorite. Maybe Ringu, where watching a cutting-edge videotape causes a ghost to exit the television (in seven days, again). Or Final destination, where some hot youngsters piss off death itself. Or I know what you did last summer, where hot youngsters get away with a hit-and-run, but someone knows what they did last summer. Or Canydman, where people say the title five times in the mirror to summon its killer (or at the very least do a great job of publicizing it to their friends). These films spread through the cultural premise first. They feel like they were made that way, like those game shows…Just tattoo of us ex on the beach— where the title must surely have preceded the details. Elevator horror revels in its hook, which sells to entertain you and lure you to the cinemas.

If that sounds like a horror formula, it is – to some extent. But elevator horror is a definition that stems from its opposition to elevated horror. The rise of this genre makes it necessary to define it. A key difference is how audiences are encouraged to talk about these two types of films. Elevated horror films are seen as metaphors or cautionary tales addressing societal issues through the prism of gore, and so, like Wesley Morris recently quarreled in The New York Times when it comes to modern blockbusters, they are steeped in discourse. While it’s fine to discuss the plot of an elevator-height horror movie, high horror movies require something more. There must be a discussion of the theme, or at least something adjacent to the theme.

The Babadookso, it’s not about a tall man in a top hat out of your child’s storybook, it’s about family dynamics, the pressure of having children. Hereditary it’s not about a cult of pensioners cheating death and stripping, it’s about family dynamics, the pressure of having children. The witch It’s not about a goat acquiring souls for evil butter, but more about family dynamics, the pressure of having children. Nothing really came overnight He comes at night, and that’s the point. To discuss elevated horror movies is literally to miss the woods for the trees, to be overly commercial; after all, the elevator pitch is a capitalist formula, the art reduced to its profitable premise.

Clever criticism of elevated horror has been around for a while. As critic Nia Edwards-Behi pointed out, the concept stems from a cultural snobbery, a distrust of gender. It has a lot to do with a common critical error, broader than film, of assuming that the pulpier works lack thematic depth. person who watched candy mana parable about racism and gentrification, could be argued to be without substance. Barbaric, which is difficult to sum up without spoilers, first presents itself as a kind of slasher but then goes somewhere else entirely. Serious themes grow out of non-serious worlds.

As with most cultural classifications, look too closely and the distinctions become more confusing. Ari Aster could probably pitch Midsommar in an elevator; It follows could fall on either side. Yet there is still a significant distinction to be made here. These films are in tune with the way most viewers react to horror: they react to it literally, without pretense. They conjure up their own pitches (my friend still hopes to one day write his movie “Weed Turns London Stoners Into Zombies”); they debate whether they would stay in the Airbnb with an unknown man. Because one of the most precious pleasures of horror movies is precisely this literalness: the scenarios, impossible or possible, that could happen to anyone in a scary world.

Comments are closed.