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Toni Collette as Annie Graham in Hereditary
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Even the hardest horror veterans don’t think movies need to be scary to succeed

Some of the greatest horrors ever made aren't conventionally 'scary'.

The ever-evolving genre of horror has been defined by literary historian J. A. Cuddon as “a piece of fiction in prose of variable length… which shocks, or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing.” Generally speaking, if a contemporary piece of horror fiction doesn’t meet these criteria, it isn’t classified as “scary enough” to receive that categorization. Especially in the modern realm of horror, that old-headed way of thinking has been debunked; psychological horror and supernatural horror, while not always conventionally “scary” as they are unsettling, largely account for most of the 21st century’s revolutionary horror.

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Over on Reddit, the debate has resurfaced as one user remarked that horror is “easier to crossover into other genres than any other genre,” hence its flexibility in that regard. However, an action-horror, for example, wouldn’t have the same shock value (supposedly) as, let’s say, a horror-thriller, simply because ‘horror’ and ‘thriller’ are more closely entwined. Either way, the original post argues that horror comes in all shapes and sizes, so there isn’t necessarily a “one size fits all” scheme when it comes to judging horror by its ability to scare and disgust.

Naturally, horror junkies came flocking to the comments in full support of the statement, even sharing some sentiments of their own. One user expressed a deep-rooted love for horror that spans 50-plus years, even going so far as to call horror “an escape” from reality. As a hardcore horror fan, they never expect to be terrified, but more so unnerved at the very least. In fact, this user would argue that non-fiction can be far more devastating.

Another comment, which refers to horror as “subjective,” argues that different content evokes different emotions in different people — reiterating the absence of that “one size fits all” mechanic.

In other words, horror fans looking for that next big high would apparently do well to temper such lofty desires, or else they risk being forever disappointed with the genre.

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Chynna Wilkinson
Chynna has been a noteworthy presence within creative media for over seven years. As a self-proclaimed geek driven by a passion for horror, comic books, video games, and modern cinema, she takes pride in doing what she loves. In addition to her personal writing projects, Chynna is also an award-winning screenwriter, published poet, and accomplished academic writer, producing everything from short stories and screenplays to articles, features, and poetry. She enjoys watching anime, horror movies, and animated shows and her life revolves around cinema, video games, and tasteful literature.