Stop It, Hollywood: Horror Movie Music

Certain actions (some of them completely absurd and unfounded in anything resembling real human behavior) have become so overused in movies and television that they’ve actually transcended being cliches to become parodies of cliches, which is just all sorts of weird. Even if a cease and desist can’t be issued against these incidents, the least we can do is complain about them. Here is an example of the kind of foolishness we never want to see on the big and/or small scream ever again.

I propose a ban on music in horror movies from here forthwith. That’s right. No more music in any horror movie ever again. Why? Because no one knows how to use music – or rather, how not to use music – in horror movies anymore. Frickin’ no one.

Some horror movies that aren’t scary – which is most of them – might actually be sort of scary if the goddamn score didn’t tell us what we’re supposed to be feeling at any given moment. How many times have you seen a horror movie where some girl is running through the woods, screaming her head off as some unseen monster chases her through the underbrush? It might be an unnerving moment every time, filled with tension and despair and horrendousness, if the goddamn violins in the score weren’t going crazy, demanding we freak the hell out right along with the poor woman. Or if the death metal song by Disturbed weren’t blaring from some unknown source.

What’s worse is the score “foreshadowing” a scare, as if it’s telling us to get ready, ’cause it’s gonna be here any second, watch out, here it comes! You better get ready to be scared, which, uh, kind of contradicts the whole concept of what being scared is all about in the first place, doesn’t it? You’ve seen that a million times, too – some dude is inching toward the closed closet door, step by step, he reaches for the handle, the music is sweeping and swooshing, letting us know it’s almost here… then, BAM, the music drops out as he opens the door and all that happens is a goddamn cat or something jumps out. “Meow!” “Oh, kitty,” the relieved fool sighs, and then BAM! The music stings as the REAL scare happens, which is Jason Voorhees or whatever coming from behind him and cutting his dumb head off. Fie.


So, every horror director needs to revisit Jaws or Psycho or Halloween to see how you use music in horror movies, or no more music in horror movies, ever. Seriously.

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