Horror is a genre that’s practically built on acts on violence, and yet as classics like the 1978 Halloween have attested time and time again, moments of bloodshed and brutality are often at their most effective when partially left to the imagination.
This less-is-more approach was recently acknowledged by Jason Blum, producer of the new, David Gordon Green-helmed Halloween. Speaking to Collider, Blum recalled how careful consideration was put into the volume, timing, and intensity of the film’s onscreen violence.
“I always think, that kinda less violence you show the scarier it is. But you can’t get away with not showing violence in Halloween in my opinion. So it is there, and when it’s there it’s very violent. Also, if it’s violent all the way through you kinda become numb to it, so we kinda pick and chose our moments. And we went for it on those moments and I think it’s pretty effective. Hopefully other people will too. But we finesse all of it, we screen it for audience and futz, and go back and forth. We work on them, I’m sure like everybody else, but I feel like we’re always finessing. Violence is one scare that I think we probably finesse the most, the thing we tangle with the most probably.”
While there’ll always be a place in horror for flicks that go all out with the gruesome spectacle, Blum’s viewpoint certainly seems well-reasoned. In particular, the new Halloween is reported to focus partially on torment and conflict of the psychological kind, with the story exploring the lasting trauma left by Laurie’s first encounter with Michael Myer’s forty years ago, and the effect this has had on Laurie’s family. The film would arguably risk distracting from this human-level drama if it went over-the-top with the gore.
In any case, Michael’s latest rampage through Haddonfield has so far been well received by most critics, and it looks like Green’s film won’t do too badly on the commercial front, either, with Halloween projected to achieve a box office high for the series. Whether or not the movie will sit well with fans remain to be seen, but a sequel seems all but inevitable at this point, and co-writer Danny McBride says that ideas for the next installment are already being thrown around.
You can see for yourself whether the new Halloween strikes the right balance of onscreen and off-screen violence when it hits theaters on October 19th.