The future of the Slasher genre
God, we're in bloody 2019 now where are all the Slasher films? Not a commonly asked question, but one I intend to address regardless. The genre has seen somewhat of a decline over the last decade or so, since the days when Jason Vorhees and Michael Myers could frolic around merrily decapitating many the teenage victim. A swift decline, due in no small part to repetitive films and increasing fatigue with the genre has left young Jason and Michael on the breadline, struggling to keep the clothes on their backs, and to afford the polish for their butter knife collections. Indeed, Jason hasn't had an outing since 2009. So what then can we expect from the genre in the future, if at all we can expect Slasher films to exist.
Firstly, lets address the elephant in the room that I can't ignore anymore. 2018 saw the release of a new Halloween film. The naysayers may have anticipated this to be one of the new wave of remakes. You know those remakes. Those bastarding-ruin-your-childhood-level-bad remakes. Halloween suffered from the unfortunate truth that it was quite good, by design or otherwise. It grossed $253,502,345 worldwide, on only a $10 million production budget. This leads to my first assumption about Slasher films; there will be many, many more. The commercially driven element of the film industry goes where there is likely to be money, which for the most part is pre-sold property. It comes as no surprise then that the Friday the 13th franchise may indeed be receiving a reboot in the near future.
So, perhaps the next apt question is how can the next wave of Slasher films not be terrible? A Slasher films these days needs to be more than the classics, it needs to add something to make people interested. The genre has traversed the parodic and now needs to reflect the self reflexivity that we expect from things that seem to take themselves a little too seriously. I want Jason Vorhees from the remake to learn from the failings of Leatherface and other recent reboots, and not try to reinvent the wheel, but perhaps provide a little oil to it. The Slasher film of the future needs to consider the way in which cinema has evolved since the genre first emerged. Horror now has to offer more than it has in recent year. It needs to have concept, visuals, psychological thrills, in any combination of the above. The success of the Halloween could end up being a flash in the pan but perhaps the future of Slashers lays beyond the big screen,
I think that the greatest future for the Slasher icon lies outside of cinema these days though. We've seen many great horror icons appearing in video games over recent years. Dead by Daylight added Michael Myers to it's rosta. Mortal Kombat included Leatherface as DLC. Friday the thirteenth got it's own video game. Video games can provide a new realm for the established characters of horror games to make a new name for themselves; providing they learn the lesson from previous attempts like that terrible Saw game that I'll review one day. A horror game must be just that - a horror game. Too often, horror becomes a secondary element in horror video games, just look at the Resident evil franchise. At it's core, Resident Evil began as a horror shooter, but all that changed when ,in RE5, horror have way to action, becoming a secondary feature. Resident evil 7 to some extent fixed this, but it's an easy trap for game developers to call into. At present, Slasher games have managed to capture this, with Dead by Daylight particularly capturing the powerlessness of the victims, and the shear power of the Slasher.
I think though that the main way forward for our beloved Slasher villains is the tv. The silverscreen is on fire at the minute. Money is pouring in, and a golden age of television has emerged, in no small part down to Netflix and Amazon. TV allows slower, and more developed storylines, and can play nicely into some development beyond what could be achieved in a film. I feel that if the Slasher genre is to not only continue, but to thrive into the long term.
When Friday the 13th finally drops, will it be a success or a flop? My instinct is to say that it will probably make money at the box office, but will be poorly received by critics and fans alike, but I hope to be proven wrong!