Friday, November 1st, 2013
Feel like watching a horror movie this Halloween? You should give Hollywood a miss and look to European and Asian cinema, according to University of Adelaide experts.
Senior Lecturer in French Studies Dr Ben McCann says France has made a name for itself in horror cinema in recent years, offering a serious alternative to the multiple remakes and sequels being churned out in the US.
"There aren't a lot of new ideas in Hollywood – the filmmakers seem to have lost the ability to invent new stories and are constantly recycling ideas. By comparison, French horror cinema, led by the New French Extremity movement, is creative and subversive," Dr McCann says.
"In French horror there's often a lot going on under the surface, sometimes dealing with contemporary issues in France. For example, the horror films Inside (2007) and Frontier(s) (2007) contain images of the Paris riots of 2005. Frontier(s) also has a very strong undercurrent of extreme right-wing politics. Many of these new horror films deal with issues of immigration, border protection, and xenophobia.
"French films like Martyrs (2008) and Livid (2011) can be disturbing and grisly – for those who like that sort of thing – in ways that Hollywood doesn't seem to convey. They offer a genuine alternative to Hollywood, but they also stand in stark contrast to what we normally consider to be French cinema," he says.
"Hollywood is now inviting many of the directors of these French horror films to make movies in the US, which helps to show that Hollywood desperately needs fresh thinking and new ideas."
Dr Peter Pugsley from the University's Discipline of Media is author of the book Tradition, Culture and Aesthetics in Contemporary Asian Cinema. He says that horror films from countries like Japan and Korea have been very influential in the past – such as Japan's The Ring (or Ringu) series – but other Asian countries are now trying their hand at the horror genre.
"Countries like Malaysia and Singapore are now branching out into horror, often quite different kinds of horror to what we see in the US. For example, Singapore is experimenting with a sub-genre of horror comedy films, which appeal to a broader audience," Dr Pugsley says.
"In Malaysia, ghost stories have been popular. Spirituality and superstition seem to work quite well in South-East Asian horror because these stories don't pose a challenge to local religious or political beliefs."
He says even Bollywood, which has been very conservative, is now dabbling in horror.
"The film Ragini MMS (2011) is an Indian take on Hollywood's Paranormal Activity films – it's an erotic horror by Indian standards and has broken some taboos. This is partly due to a change in the classification system in India, which allows for stronger content," Dr Pugsley says.
Ragini MMS has been so popular in India, there is now a sequel due out early next year.