Browse all

How horror films became Gen Z’s ultimate pleasure

The truth behind the younger generation's newly found love for the genre

How horror films became Gen Z’s ultimate pleasure The truth behind the younger generation's newly found love for the genre

Are horror films to Gen Z what chick flicks were to Millennials? It seems so. With every new generation, there seems to be a genre of cinema that defines it. This is proven by the fact that Millennials everywhere can still recall the exact meaning of October 3rd and quote Clueless to exhaustion after living through the peak chick flick era of cinema back in the early 2000s. For a while, it seemed that this period in time would remain unrivaled after making such a significant mark in pop culture, but we are now seeing this proven false as the horror genre is rapidly gathering interest, especially amongst the younger generation, Gen Z.

If you have been following the industry news, or if you happen to be one of those rare people over-25 who are active on TikTok and not a predictor, then you might be aware that there is a lot going on with horror at the moment that explains Gen Z’s growing love for the genre. There has been a bundle of horror film revivals and sequels coming out recently. Texas Chainsaw Massacre got a sequel that was released on Netflix last year, and the Scream franchise continues its run with some new additions to the cast in the hopes of ushering the series into a new era, along with other films. This has proven successful as the latest chapter of the Scream franchise - that includes a selection of Gen Z actors including Hollywood’s new IT girl Jenna Ortega - has become a massive box-office hit, and one of the most beloved chapters of the series so far. This is only a part of the allure and the real reason why Gen Z is so enchanted with this genre, a phenomenon that is directly linked to why so many promising young talents in the entertainment industry have chosen to work with horror.

@a24 Let it out Pearl #x #pearl #miagoth #horror #a24 original sound - A24

The horror scene is going through a major shift right now, and this is largely the doing of independent studios and a new generation of industry creatives that have taken it upon themselves to revolutionise the formerly discarded and predictable genre. Gone are the overdone clichesas the industry is toying with the elevation of horror from a predictable kill fest, to surprisingly empowering portrayals of antiheroesfeminism, and renewed representation of the LGBTQ+ community, from an afterthought into the spotlight. The film Pearl is a good example of the type of evolution visible in the horror scene today. Mia Goth, who stars in the film, said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that horror in itself has become «an umbrella term, and so much can exist within that.» Pearl falls under this umbrella of horror while showing a heart-wrenching story of a woman with violent tendencies that is constantly underestimated and undervalued and finally pushed to the breaking point. The film presents the concept of female rage in a familiar and engaging way that is rarely seen in Hollywood or in horror in general. This has been attempted before with films like Jennifer's Body, which was unfortunately oversexualized and misrepresented by the industry and media and never got the opportunity to be appreciated for what it was back in the day. Now however things are different and, as it happens, viewers have even drawn a connection from Mia Goth’s Pearl to the modern female joker which appeals to this younger generation of women. So what changed? Why is Megan Fox’s portrayal of Jennifer considered a sex symbol catering to the male gaze while Mia Goth’s Pearl is seen as a feminist antihero who you can sympathize with? The answer is simple: the audience changed and, with that, the industry followed.

What we must remember is that the film industry is ultimately driven by profit. As soon as consumer demand changes, the industry has to adapt to it. This is why it is important to remember that transparency, inclusivity and representation are not just trendy words when it comes to Gen Z, but rather their defining values. This needs to be taken into consideration when catering to this audience. The reason why the horror genre is growing popular amongst this generation is that it accurately anticipates and showcases themes that these young adults are interested in. Essentially using elevated horror as a way to update tired tropes and better represent and appeal to the audience it is targeting. One way we have seen this is the increased representation of LGBTQ+ in recent horror films. This community used to be overlooked or used for cheap laughs in slasher films but as of late seems to be owning the scene, on screen and on social media, where viral horror icon M3GAN was recently claimed as queer. 

Overall, it is because of Gen Z’s refusal to settle for mediocre torture porn if studios like A24 have gotten a chance to shine by following through with original ideas and taking chances on independent cinema and filmmakers that might have otherwise been overlooked by a profit-hungry industry. This progress has now led to the ongoing evolution of elevated horror, that we are sure to see more of in the future. If all goes right, denim overalls will be the new pink by the end of the term, when Gen Z will be calling the shots.