I was thinking about doing another review for this week’s column but stopped when I thought about the film I’d chosen: 2013’s Coherence. While it’s technically a thriller, the film had been on my radar as a horror film.
This led me to an existential crisis – the best kind because it had no actual impact on my life whatsoever. What is a horror film? I did the series back when I first started writing for This Dark Matter about the allure of horror – Obsession, Thrill, Temptation, and Confusion. Looking back at those articles, those alluring qualities of horror are easily components of a good thriller. So what’s the difference between a horror film and a thriller?
It’s perhaps slightly ridiculous to get into a discussion of genre labeling because we live in an age where person A’s favorite horror film is Shaun of the Dead while person B’s favorite comedy film is Shaun of the Dead. Neither is wrong, we just live at a time when the strict definition between genres is failing further every year.
That being said, is Psycho a thriller or a horror film? What about Silence of the Lambs? Single White Female? Right now I’d say all three (in fact the majority of thrillers I’ve found via Wikipedia) to be horror films because of how completely they jive with the four tests. (And SWF is just mind-fuckingly terrifying. How can it not be a horror film?) But they aren’t horror films, are they? Let’s break it down into two parts – reality and blood. [click to continue…]