Should Horror Movies Be Used for Making a Statement?


One thing that I am a fervent believer in is that art and politics do not mix. It’s not fair to the art in question that it has to bear the burden of a statement regarding political or societal statements. Politics should stay in the political arena, while art should be able to be appreciated as an out from the harsh realities of politics and society. Is that so much to ask?

But there have been a few films where a valid statement has been made through the means of a horror movie. Take for example 1995’s urban horror anthology Tales from the Hood (pictured above). On the front of it, it’s actually a pretty terrible movie. The acting is a joke and it tries too hard to be a valid horror flick. But at the same time it makes known the harsh realities of actual urban issues like police brutality and the senselessness of inner-city violence. Things like that can only be conveyed through horror, as people should be horrified by it.

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In a 2011 interview with TIME, acclaimed horror director Guillermo Del Toro admitted that the horror genre is inherently political. He stated that like, fairy tales, there are two types of horror: pro-institution and anti-establishment. Pro-institution deals in matter of “don’t disobey the rules’ while anti-establishment has to do more with anarchy. It’s hard to argue that point, truly. But for the simple minds who just want to see a horror film, can’t it just be that simple? To paraphrase Groucho Marx, can’t a cigar just be a cigar?

It’s hard not to be hypocritical sometimes. If you lean to the left politically, Kevin Smith’s satire Red State may very well be up your alley, even if it was meant to make fun of everyone’s favorite punching bag, the Westboro Baptist Church. However, it’s still a political statement: Hey, these guys are jerks. What if this happened to them?

Even the late Wes Craven had his hand in that cookie jar with The Last House on the Left. It was an excellent movie typical of Craven’s style. But although the tale deals more with revenge dealt from angry parents, their dive into ultraviolence doesn’t necessarily stand with our image of “justified” violence. With that being said, what can be considered as “justified” when it comes to retribution?

There are dozens, maybe even hundreds, of stellar horror films that come right out with a political message. They may not be obvious at first, but once the message is out there, it honestly taints the film. Leave the political statements for the New York Times and USA Today. Horror fans appreciate art and art is exactly what it should be. Says the horror buff, “Stay the hell out of my horror movies!”

The statement does not make the art beautiful. The art does that itself, thankfully. No matter how deranged, disturbing, unsettling, mad, or creepy a horror movie is, it’s still art in a messed up way. Quote the horror buff once again, “I just want the s**t scared out of me.”

Weigh in below on your thoughts regarding political statements in the horror genre.