Horror Deserves to Win Some Fucking Oscars

Horror movies and the Oscars aren’t exactly frequent bedfellows. The Silence of the Lambs is the closest thing to a fright tale that’s won Best Picture award, and while it is by all accounts a horror movie, many critics and commentators labeled it a thriller just to remove the stench that comes with being associated with our dirty genre. Rosemary’s Baby, The Exorcist, Jaws, and Black Swan made their mark, but that’s a short list in the grand scheme. The reality is: when you traverse the history of the Oscars, the lack of attention paid towards fright movies speaks volumes about the film industry’s attitudes towards the genre.

But could that be about to change?

Since Get Out wowed critics and audiences alike earlier this year, it’s been tipped as a serious contender for Oscar glory. In addition to being universally praised, Jordan Peele’s feature-length debut is arguably the most socially relevant and thought-provoking film of the year—of any genre. As Eric Kohn of Indiewire wrote, the film “skewered the notion of a post-racial America from multiple directions at once, setting aside more obvious targets to unearth some of the worst aspects of black-white tensions hiding in plain sight.”

Considering the Academy is frequently criticized for ignoring diversity, they’d be misguided to ignore Get Out at the next ceremony—they shouldn’t overlook statistics, after all. According to a poll conducted by Awards Daily earlier this year, polling over 100 critics, it was voted the best film of 2017 at the time. Since then, it’s continued to gain traction and become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon.

What better way to showcase inclusiveness as well as credibility than by awarding a movie directed by a black man which also just so happens to be considered the year’s best among the certified experts?

No other film has captured the social imagination or inspired topical socio-political discourse this year like Get Out has. Yet, despite its powerful themes and biting satire, it’s just a damn good movie, with an original premise, a brilliant script, and a standout performance by Daniel Kaluuya. Peele has crafted a movie that’s equal parts original, smart, funny, and uncomfortable—if you don’t like it, you’re in the minority. And to see a movie with arthouse sensibilities become a bona fide blockbuster is a rarity.

Sure, when it comes to Oscar contention box office numbers aren’t a factor. But, in the case of a movie like Get Out—an unconventional, genre-defying oddity if there ever was one—the film’s success is a testament to its cultural impact. That cannot be understated—especially in the present zeitgeist, where the ideas proposed by Peele are topics which need to be addressed.

Another film that’s been put forward for consideration is IT, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name about a group of kids who are tormented by a menacing, shape-shifting clown. Warner Bros. is so confident of its chances of winning something this year that they’ve put it forward for consideration in all categories. If anything, it at least deserves to win Best Adapted Screenplay: to condense King’s popular tome was no easy feat after all, and has there honestly been a better adaptation this year? It’s already the highest grossing horror film of all time, and an Oscar would be the icing on the cake. Maybe IT doesn’t boast the same cultural significance as Get Out, but as a cinematic experience, it’s a great piece of storytelling and quite the thrill ride.

Overall, horror has enjoyed a great year, both commercially and critically, while blockbusters once guaranteed to have soared have underperformed or flopped. But it’s been a minute since the genre was a focal point of the mainstream conversation and regarded in such high esteem among those outside the community. Maybe those who deem it dirty are finally embracing the blood and guts? Or maybe the state of the world right now has made us want to scream?

The genre has always tapped into contemporary fears and anxieties, in turn providing audiences with some much-needed catharsis during terrifying times. This year, people have needed that emotional outlet more than ever. That’s the real power of horror and the genre doesn’t need acknowledgment from the Academy to validate its importance. But it’d be nice to see receive some credit at long last.

Op-EdKieran Fisher