Dean’s 2nd pick of the month

March 2024’s pick

Relying on horror to save the film industry
by Dean Patrick

My brother, Josh, and I were recently discussing how truly god-awful the film industry has become. Movies are now so watered down and soft many of them are as nauseating as baby food. 

I believe Marvel is one of the biggest reasons; I’ll get to that in a moment. 

Matt Walsh makes the argument that 2007 was the last year of truly great films. While I don’t entirely believe that, 2007 produced “There Will Be Blood,” “No Country for Old Men,” “Zodiac,” and “Michael Clayton,” just to name a few. “There Will Be Blood” and “No Country for Old Men” are two of the most powerful films ever made with performances from Daniel Day-Lewis and Javier Bardem as two of the greatest villains in movie history. 

In many ways both films delve into horror. 

Josh made the argument that 2010 was the last great year in film which produced titans such as “The Fighter,” “True Grit,” and “Shutter Island.” While the first two aren’t horror, Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” certainly hits the vein. But his point, much like Walsh’s: those years produced films that held nothing back. Actors and directors had the freedom to rip out your throat. And…they didn’t have to seek the horror genre to do it.

Today, everything is held back at the expense of sparing the feelings of audiences that Hollywood believes must be treated with the facade that the world means no harm. Either that, or take the audience to worlds that will never exist. Sickening, because it is inside Hollywood where some of the ugliest and most reprehensible horror literally takes place. It’s an industry that sold its soul to Marvel which has become such a disaster in storytelling that I, personally, get physically sick by the very sight of the Marvel logo. 

To save us from this soupy mess, we’ll need to rely on horror. Not just monsters or demons or vampires or warlocks. But all its facets. Psychological horror in the face of disease or mental illness or gaslighting. Prison horror in the face of jails, institutions, kangaroo court systems. Ghost stories and haunted house stories based on history and journals. Historical and Modern-day serial killers. Spiritual suffering and possession. Science Fiction horror that is becoming more and more Science Fact. All elements as Morpheus would say in the original “The Matrix,” after taking the red pill: “Welcome to the real world.” 

The reason is simple: the world is not safe. It is not soft. It is horror that remains the one genre where ideologies are eliminated and the protagonists have one goal and agenda: to survive whatever hell they must endure. 

Thankfully, many A-List actors are getting on board for the wake up call, with topics that range from the abuse of women to child killers to mental illness. Films such as “Men” (abuse of women with Jessie Buckley and Rory Kinnear); “Infinity Pool” (adultery and murder with Alexander Skarsgard and Mia Goth); “Saltburn” (murder and betrayal with Barry Keoghan and Rosamund Pike); “The Black Phone” (child serial killing and child abuse with Ethan Hawke); “Resurrection” (stalking and prey of women with Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth); “The Night House” (grief and loss of spouse with Rebecca Hall); “Smile” (mental illness with Sosie Bacon); and “The Empty Man” (cults and murder with James Badge Dale and Stephen Root) are all films of stunning power. 

While such films have not flooded the market with billions and billions of dollars, what they accomplish is what’s missing overall in the film industry: powerful stories with characters who bite and claw their way for every inch in order to survive. 


Enjoy, my fine readers! 


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