Something has crept up on Hollywood.

Films featuring jets of fake blood and comically bad acting are disappearing one by one. In their place, audiences are getting things not usually associated with the horror genre: nuanced characters and storylines that do more than just go bump in the night.

From It Follows to the highly-acclaimed Get Out, horror movies appear to be going from strength to strength. The former made viewers squirm with psychological suspense, while the latter was whipsmart with its criticism of American police and the white saviour stereotype.

The characters in both films were fully rounded, their dialogue sharp. At no point in the storylines did they hear a strange noise and wonder aloud whether they should go upstairs, get naked and take a shower.

People are voting with their wallets. Get Out exceeded expectations last year, netting more than $250 million at the worldwide box office. This year's indie horror darling A Quiet Place also avoided a grisly end, smashing its competitors to snare more than $50 million in ticket sales on its first weekend alone.


The bean counters will be less impressed with Hereditary, the newly-released supernatural horror flick starring Toni Collette. It only raked in $13 million on its debut weekend but, to its credit, has impressed the critics and was always going to face an uphill battle going up against the likes of Ocean's 8, Deadpool 2and Solo: A Star Wars Story.

Emily Blunt in A Quiet Place.

Photo: Paramount Pictures

The acting world has also taken notice of what is happening, with experienced actors now jumping on the horror genre bandwagon. For example, The Crown's Claire Foy recently starred in the psychological horror Unsane and Emily Blunt was the lead in A Quiet Place, directed by her husband John Krasinski.

There's also a string of highly-anticipated horror flicks to come, including Slender Man and the remake of Stephen King's Firestarter.

Up-and-coming actor Alex Wolff, who stars in Hereditary, summed this renaissance up best when he told VICE he was surprised how nuanced characters in horror films can be.

"I think a lot of times in the genre, the character development gets short-stripped and everyone of course focuses on the scares, the blood and all the more obvious jump scare stuff," he said. "Instead, a film like [Hereditary] takes its time in developing the people and more works as a family drama above just a horror movie.

"Their curse, and the feelings a family will feel when things fall apart as life disintegrates, is a reality that's horrifying in a way that seeps into people's bones way more than a dude with a mask running around killing people."

Broede Carmody

Broede Carmody is an entertainment reporter at Fairfax Media.

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