It seems like the term “horror movie resurgence” rises from its clickbait tomb every other year, as critics and culture writers pretend to be shocked that people like to flock to scary movies over and over. But something about 2017 is different. There is tangible proof that horror is having a significant cultural moment, judging by box office numbers and the undeniable presence of things that go bump in the night in this year’s Clio Entertainment Awards.
Horror as a cultural touchstone set the unofficial theme for Clio Entertainment this year (which happened completely organically, and had nothing to do with the show’s proximity to Halloween), with an impressive 42 submitted spots (more than Comedy or Drama) including 24 trailers. Meanwhile, The New York Times is ready to declare 2017 “the biggest year in horror movie history,” citing strong performances from the likes of Get Out, It, and the recent strong bow for Jigsaw. One theory – put forth by Vanity Fair – is that horror is best served in a communal setting, and people are seeking out theaters where they can share screams with others rather than sitting at home in the dark. But that discounts the fact that the second season of Netflix's horror-tinged Stranger Things was binge-watchers’ most anticipated show prior to its premiere last week, and a quick scan of the most popular iTunes podcasts—perhaps the most solitary form of personal entertainment—shows four horror/true crime-themed shows in the top 10 (including “Lore” at #2, which just recently debuted an Amazon Prime spin-off series) with strong showings from the likes of Bloody Disgusting’s “Creepy” podcast and the increasingly popular horror/comedy hybrid show “My Favorite Murder.”
So what is it? Vanity Fair also points to nostalgia – which clearly fuels Stranger Things and may have been a boost for It given its kaleidoscope of cultural touchpoints (the 50s, the 80s, and the 90s) – but perhaps it simply has something to do with the national mood. We’re in dark times, to be sure, and audiences seem more willing to go all in on that darkness rather than retreat into whimsy like they did when flashy musicals offered respite from the Great Depression. After all, it was also during that period—1931, a few years into the Depression—that Dracula debuted and changed Universal Studios forever into a legendary house of Horrors. It’s not a coincidence that one of the other biggest and most anticipated television shows this year was the return of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story, which came back with a pointedly political tale this time around.
A quick scan of the Clio Entertainment Awards shortlist shows not only a strong horror presence, but a noticeable diversity in the offerings—which may also be a factor in horror’s success this year. With enormous franchises turning everyone into superheroes, horror films remain a place where filmmakers can take risks, play with formulas, and defy expectations.
Leatherface, “Mask” red band Trailer - Lionsgate revisits the iconic character created by the late Tobe Hooper in 1974.
The Hatred, Blu-ray trailer - Once again, Lionsgate delivers a creepy offering for this direct-to-video release, proving once again that horror also thrives beyond theater walls.
The Conjuring 2, “Reverse” trailer - Remember the urban legends about playing heavy metal records backwards? Warner Bros. had some fun with that concept…
Kong: Skull Island, Target showcase wall - You have to go big when you’re celebrating the return of one of the all-time movie monster heavyweights
It, "Slide" trailer - C'mon, it wouldn't be a horror tribute without one homicidal clown. Buddha Jones' trailer is perhaps the creepiest entry in a very creepy campaign.
Special Edition Halloween Faceplates - The problem facing home video legacy titles is how do you convince fans to buy a movie they likely already own? Gorgeous new cover art like this makes a strong case.
Alien: Covenant, “Paradise Lost” one-sheet - The Alien franchise returned to its roots with the more overtly-terrifying “Covenant,” as reflected in this unsettling poster.
Stranger Things, Main Title - With a font straight off a classic Stephen King cover and music that evokes John Carpenter, it’s no wonder Netflix’s creepy supernatural thriller became an instant must-see.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show, #TransformationTuesday campaign - Fox and Watson DG pushed their retelling of the ultimate Halloween cult film with a unique social media play.
You can see the entire Clio Entertainment Awards 2017 Shortlist right here. And be sure to check back to see all of the Grand, gold, silver, and bronze Clio Entertainment Award winners on Nov. 2nd.