The nature of horror movies is constantly shifting, with various trends coming and going as audience tastes alter. The late ‘90s saw a resurgence in slasher flicks such as I Know What You Did Last Summer, but its star Freddie Prinze Jr. thinks that due to the Saw franchise, it isn’t scary any more.
The hunger for stories featuring groups of attractive young people being hunted by masked killers was kicked off by the unexpected success of Scream, with output veering between straight variations like Urban Legend and Wrong Turn, and further deconstructions such as Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. However, the early 2000s also saw the rise of low budget and high viscera horrors, which Saw, released in 2004, cemented the popularity of.
When speaking to Collider, Prinze had this to say about what the R-rated trend did for films that came before it.
“I heard they’re making an I Know What You Did Last Summer TV series. I don’t know how they’re gonna make it scary because James Wan, who I love, made those movies not scary anymore because he did Saw and changed the whole game up. Now, my movie is a comedy, but whatever, it’s cool.”
It’s arguable that Saw is more geared towards shock value than genuine fear, especially later installments that forget about Jigsaw’s mission to make survivors of his games appreciate their lives, focusing instead on brutal deaths by increasingly elaborate traps. But if nothing else, it’s certainly a considerably tenser scenario watching a woman frantically digging around in the guts of a man she’s just stabbed to death to locate the key to a reverse bear trap about to spring open and rip her head apart than it is a faceless man in a raincoat slowly stalking a nubile blonde down a shadowy alleyway.
Everyone is scared by different things, which is what makes the horror genre so inventively varied and continually evolving. Despite pop culture jokes about its clockwork Halloween releases, even Saw ran its course to make way for more atmospheric and character-driven chills like Hereditary, A Quiet Place and The Witch. However, the cyclical nature of trends means that there’s no reason that slasher movies’ time won’t come again like it did 25 years ago, so even the likes of I Know What You Did Last Summer might still find a new lease of life.