Bringing Horror Movies into the Millennial Age

By October 29, 2013Filmmaking

I read an article recently entitled “Is ‘Halloween’ Still Scary 35 Years Later?

Yes, it is.

The crux of the piece was whether or not today’s Millennials (also known as Gen Y) find classics like “Halloween” scary or not.

No, they do not.

Millennials are considered to be the generation born between 1982-2000. So, by no fault of their own, they missed out on a magical time period when you would go see a flick just because it was a Wes Craven movie… or (fill in your own example.) The gist of the piece is interesting and I encourage you to read it (after you finish this, of course) and draw your own conclusions.

Most horror movies incorporate common character archetypes because they are familiar to us, we identify with them on different levels – the archetypes are reflections of ourselves. Regardless of genre, almost every character in a movie typifies some archetype of personality.  They’re just glaringly obvious in horror movies.

So, are these archetypes accurately represented in today’s genre fare and in a way that connects with today’s audiences that are overwhelmingly millennial?

Nay, I say. Nay.

Here’s my take as to how they should be updated and reflected on screen.

The Hipster (formerly known as The Jock)

This is the guy whose life has been scheduled since Day 1. His parents define “helicopter parents.” His parents believe every child deserves a trophy – even for just being present. Graduating from kindergarten is a praise-worthy accomplishment. He’s not an alpha male in the physically imposing, traditional sense but more in the way he carries and presents himself to the world – arrogant and narcissistic.

He’s entitled. He believes his presence is a gift and women should feel honored to have sex with him. He’s unemployed and still lives at home with his parents… even though most of his friends have graduated college and found jobs. His mom does his laundry, lays his clothes out for him and makes sure he has money in his bank account – even though he’s probably using it to buy weed. If he’s lucky enough to get a job interview, it’s highly likely one or both parents will be present to request a post-interview meeting with the Head of HR to lobby on his behalf – if they’re not sitting in on the interview as it’s happening. You should thank him for gracing you with his presence.

His predecessor, The Jock, would be inclined to storm headfirst into an unknown situation – which usually ends with his head being loped off – because he’s ready to kick killer ass. Not The Hipster… he can’t be bothered… by anything, not even a killer. He’ll try to serve up the Multi-Tasker as a sacrifice using a promise of Radiohead tickets and Kale chips but to no avail. He has to die first. Whether he’s a Jock or a Hipster, he’s still a douchebag.

And we all know the kind of girl he attracts, right?

The Selfie (formally known as The Cheerleader)

She’s beautiful, not very bright, and completely self-absorbed. We wonder why she even gives the Hipster the time-of-day, let alone bangs him, but then we realize that she’s Yin to his Yang – a female douchebag. Most of what I said about The Hipster describes her, as well. She wants everything yesterday. The only validation in her life is the number of followers and friends she has on social media. She refers to her social media profiles as her “other selves.”

At any given moment, she can give you an update on anyone in the Kardashian Clan. And we hate her for it, but we tolerate it because she’s hot. Her social media photos are almost all selfies taken by other people or pictures of her food. We want her to die horribly and the sooner the better – but not until she gets naked and posts the photos to her Instagram and Twitter accounts with some sort of overly hashtagged message that defies all standards of grammar and literacy.

Oddly, she’s usually the Golden Child’s best friend for reasons that escape us. My guess is that it has something to do with that experimental phase in high school where they hooked up and discovered the Indigo Girls Radio Station on Spotify together.

The Multi-Tasker (formerly known as The Nerd)

The Multi-Tasker is not tech-savvy; this kid is tech-dependent. He rarely makes eye contact with you, especially when speaking with you. He’s very socially awkward with human beings. He breaks into a sweat if he doesn’t check his smartphone every two minutes to see how many people liked his most recent Facebook post so he can then tweet the results to ask people what they thought of it.

But we like this guy – we want to like this guy because we know that he’s an outcast. We’ve all felt like outcasts, right? The group lets him hang out because he usually is the first one to have the latest iPhone. The Hipster and The Selfie love to take advantage of The Multi-Tasker because they perceive him to be the weakest of the bunch, even though he tends to be the most intelligent. Whether it’s intentional or otherwise, he often brings a sense of levity to the situation.

The Token Whitey (formerly known as The Token Minority)

Sometimes when I go to concerts with my friends, I’m the token White guy. Horror movies need to suck it up and face reality that America’s racial demographics are changing at an exponential rate.

The Black Guy no longer has to die first – unless he’s The Hipster. Aside from that, it’s time for Whitey to die first.

The Humanitarian (formerly known as The Nice Guy)

I feel for this kid. He’s either in love with The Golden Child and/or landed himself in the Friend Zone or he’s her brother.

The Hipster will often stick up for him. Why? Because he doesn’t judge The Hipster and make him feel inferior. He doesn’t care how you feel about gay marriage, politics, and religion. The world is a better place with you in it. He’s so nice that even The Selfie will often be the one to relieve him of his virginity… because it’s the right thing to do.

We want this guy to make it. He’s the most enlightened of the group and will talk the Hipster off the ledge when he’s freaking out and threatening his Gluten-Free diet. If he does survive, it’s usually because The Golden Child saves him at the last minute – and then realizes how much she’s been denying her true feelings for him. Sometimes friends need to be slaughtered if it means finding true love.  If The Humanitarian is her brother, well, then that’s just wrong. I’m judging.

If he doesn’t survive… oh well. Bummer. He kind of had it coming since he could never pick a side of the fence or make a decision about anything.

The Golden Child (formerly known as The Virgin/Survivor)

This is her journey. She may have a past and lost her virginity early on but compared to the people she associates with, she’s Mother Theresa.

She represents the middle ground between both extremes of the millennial personality traits (The Hipster/Selfie and The Humanitarian). She has a healthy sense-of-self but no one would describe her as conceited. She’s the easygoing girl-next-door who looks good in a Ramones t-shirt, jeans, and no makeup.  She works hard and doesn’t believe she’s entitled to anything. What she has is what she’s earned on her own through grit and moxie. Yes, grit and moxie. She’s won the MVI (Most Valuable Intern) Award several times. However, her self-independence can also act as her Achilles Heel. She doesn’t want anyone’s help… ever. This is why we love to see her character arc play out time and time again.

Since she is clear-headed and less inclined to be distracted by Facebook, weed or nude selfies, she’s going to make it to the end and hopefully set us up for a sequel. The killer is going to bring out the survivalist side of her and she’s going to make him rue the day.

Rue.

Bonus points if she has an Australian accent and is Sharni Vinson.