This weekend I celebrated my 27th birthday, and to celebrate my wife took me out to one of my favourite restaurants. The restaurant is fairly small and doesn’t offer much privacy from the people sitting next to you, so you can imagine how annoyed we both were when the group of 19 year old University students who were shouting at the top of their lungs, walked in and sat 6 inches from us. They were crass, obnoxious and horribly immature. We spent a good portion of our meal laughing at the absurd things that came out of their mouths. Namely when one of them said “we’re heading out to the club tonight! It’s not our favourite place but it’s nice and open. Not to mention the bottles. Man the bottles don’t stop coming!” They were as big of “bros” as you can imagine.
I thought cheesy stereotypical characters like this only existed in poorly written movies.
I certainly felt older sitting next to these students and said that surely not all teens and young adults act that way. That is until I started watching Scream the TV series and realized that they too were acting the EXACT same way that these students were. As I was watching the pilot episode I thought to myself “man these characters are obnoxious! I don’t like a single one! Including the sympathetic ones I’m supposed to like!”
Suddenly the saddest realization of my adult life happened.
I couldn’t relate to teens or young adults anymore because…..I wasn’t one. And with that realization I started thinking back on all of the past few teen slasher films I had seen and how not a single one scared me. Not only did they not scare me but in almost every case I was cheering for the villain who was helping us get rid of all of these obnoxious teenagers.
That is correct, I started sympathizing with the villain (don’t read into this!)
In this moment of self-realization I understood teen slasher films in a way I had never understood them before. The thing that made them so scary when I was a teen was the villain. This villain always stalked them, popped up out of nowhere, would never go away and always arrived at the worst possible moment.
Can you think of anyone else who fits that description?
Remember in high school when you were going to drink? Who would arrive to ruin the party? Or if you were bringing a girl into your room, who would show up at the last second and ruin it all?
Hint: it wasn’t Ghost Face or Jason Voorhies.
It was your parents. Think about it! Parents are the nemesis of the North American teenager.
This is the person who doesn’t recognize their independence, maturity or their needs and who in the opinion of most teenagers are “determined to ruin their life”. How many times do you hear parents say “just wait till they’re teenagers” implying that at this age parent and child take a natural antagonistic view of each other. They immediately become enemies and fail to understand the others perspective. A parent doesn’t understand why a child feels the need to spend EVERY single weekend with their friends. Teenagers don’t understand why their parents won’t let them drink and party at 16.
So translate this over to the teen slasher genre. The killer/adult punishes (in this case by killing)those who engage in activities that adults are constantly telling teens not to do ie. Drugs, sex and alcohol. They do this until they killed off the negative characters and leave the innocent virgin alive.
Essentially the parent has rid all of the negative influences out of their child’s life so she can continue without all of the risk and harms these friends brought. Because isn’t that the character everyone relates to the most? Remember this is the only essentially normal character who doesn’t have overbearing character flaws or a one dimensional personality. This is the character who feels bad when the nerd gets bullied and who gets angry at the jock for his insensitive comments.
This is you.
Now growing up I always related to this character of course, as did most people. They represented my fear and my hopes. But as I grew up I started to develop self-awareness and really began understanding who I was as a person. I began cutting out negative influences from my life and surrounded myself with people who I actually wanted to be surrounded by. I started rolling my eyes as I walked past a group of highschool kids who were acting in the exact way I use to act. I got annoyed with other people my age who hadn’t grown up yet and couldn’t sort themselves out. I eventually became the adult that I always feared I might become. And with this becoming, I lost my teenage identity and with that I lost my interest in teen slasher films.
I started disliking the protagonist more and more in slashers. I began actively cheering the villain who was offing these teens one by one so I wouldn’t have to listen to that character’s one dimensional dialogue anymore.
“Oh no the jock is dead, I won’t have to hear about anymore keg stands or sex jokes”.
I began to lose touch with the teenage mind set and as a result I lost interest in teen slasher films, a genre that basically consumed my younger self.
I realized I had outgrown this genre when I was watching the pilot for Scream (something I plan on reviewing in a later blog) and I was only interested in the storyline featuring the adults. I remember being so happy when the main character’s mother received a threatening letter and her first move was to call the police. Because that’s what I as an adult would do! I wouldn’t throw a party while there was a killer on the loose with all my friends then separate throughout the house looking for them! I’d call the police and sit in a brightly lit room and let the police handle it.
Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the classic slasher films, Scream 1-3, Halloween, Friday 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre. But I think it’s finally time that I graduate from this genre and move onto something else. Perhaps there’s a horror genre about people who if they don’t pay off their student debts they get murdered. Now THAT is something I could relate to!
As long as the slasher genre exists teens will be chased up the stairs, checking out what the mysterious noise was and throwing parties while a mass murderer is on the loose. I’d never ask the horror industry to stop making these movies. I just ask that they make some horror movies for the generation who grew up on these movies and want to see something new!
Anyways, thanks for reading. As I said my Scream review is soon to follow, as is my review of Unfriended. Because apparently even though I’m over teen slasher films that’s all I’ve watched lately…….