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The fear of change: The gratuitous gore and the needless CGI of modern day horror movies

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A column straight from the unorthodox mind of Jamie Miller. Often written during the middle of the night, Miller provides reviews of TV shows and movies, books, and details life through from his perspective (artwork by Abby Haywood/The Collegiate).

By Jamie Miller / written at 4 a.m. 

Greetings ghouls and gals, it is I, Jamie Miller, here with what will hopefully be a regular Collegiate feature called Night Light by Jamie Miller: your home to after hour column’s. 

Tonight I come to you with a question, what happened to modern horror movies? From the days of practical effects, to unnecessary computer-generated imagery (CGI), needless gore, and legions of sequels, it’s been quite the evolution. Sometimes for the better in the case of “IT,” and sometimes for the worse in the case of… well, a lot of other horror movies. However, we’ll get to that and my feelings on the matter in more detail in a bit.

Ahh yes, horror movies. They’ve existed almost as long as cinema itself. As one of the first recorded horror movies ever made, “House of the Devil” was released in 1896. Which has a very simple premise of the Devil waging psychological warfare unto unfortunate souls who make the mistake of coming to his castle.  Horror has evolved from there, from the bloodless monster movies of the 1950’s, the slasher boom of the 1970s and ‘80s, the brief resurgence of slasher movies such as “Scream,” to the gore and blood soaked “torture ” movies of the 2000s such as “Hostel” or “Saw” to finally the found footage craze of the late 2000s such as “Paranormal Activity” or “The Blair Witch Project.”

As horror “evolved” the movies got more and more violent, we went from Dracula biting a woman’s neck offscreen, to a woman literally having her jaw ripped off on screen, blood exploding like a Michael Bay movie. 

I’ll be the first to admit I love me some violence in movies, heck I loved the Halloween movies, but at what point is too much? This is not a little gratuitous violence, this is a bloodbath that would make even Stephen King woozy, and as is often the case  less is more.

The CGI, oh boy the CGI. There was a time when CGI was new. When it’s used right it’s awesome. Although, it’s often not used right, in the old days movies such as “Freddy vs. Jason” tried and failed to use CGI convincingly. While there have also been bad practical effects over the years, at least they have a certain charm. Bad CGI does not.

While CGI has gotten better, it is still overused. It’s like so many horror movies have to use CGI now. From “A Quiet Place” to bloody “Alien Covenant” there is a saturated market of CGI horror movies. And the “Alien Covenant” is weird to me because the original “Alien,” directed by Ridley Scott, used all practical effects and is still terrifying. It’s like they have to cram CGI into every movie now that it’s available.

Now I’m not criticizing all the gore and CGI in horror movies. I just think it should be used sparingly, less is more. But, then again, maybe I’m just old fashioned. 

Thank you this has been Night Light by Jamie Miller. Enjoy the dreamscape.

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