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SCREEN Horror at the Oscars

Published 04 DEC 2017 17:23PM

Words by Martha Glaister




Horror films conjure up images of guts, gore and ghouls jumping out to terrify the audience, but often horror films are the ones with a deeper meaning, they are about something, using metaphors to discuss social commentary and hold a blood soaked mirror up to the world.

Then why is it that the biggest film awards have always shunned the genre? With the Oscars looming, let’s take a look at their history with horror.


Some of the biggest horror films that spring to mind might include, The Shining, Psycho or Alien but not one of these films were nominated for Best Picture. The only horror to have ever won this award is The Silence of the Lambs over 20 years ago, so with the genre creating a bit of a buzz again in recent years with the likes of The Babadook, Green Room and The Witch, maybe it’s time for the Academy to jump aboard this ghost train.

It, released earlier this year, became the highest-grossing horror film of all time, and had the biggest opening weekend ever for a horror in over 30 markets.


With themes of friendship and coming of age, the Stephen King adaptation already has a sequel in the works and clearly captured it’s audience who grew up in the 80s and were on a come down from a Stranger Things binge awaiting season 2.

But in the awards race, up against the likes of Spielberg and Nolan, It will most likely get lost along the way, how can a scary clown be seriously put up against subjects like Dunkirk? Breaking audience records or not, sadly It may only have a shoe in for Best Costume Design or Makeup and Hair Styling if it’s lucky.

Similarly Happy Death Day became a surprise hit this year easily surpassing Blade Runner 2049 on it’s opening weekend.

How is it that these horrors; It, Happy Death Day, Split and Annabelle: Creation are managing to top box offices and go up against hugely anticipated blockbusters with top Hollywood stars like Blade Runner 2049 and not even register on the Academy’s radar.

Made on smaller budgets but drawing in millions is it not time the Academy took a serious look at horror.



With the Oscar nominations announced in January there is one film that may be the horror contender to step up for the rest and hopefully open the door for others to be noticed.

Get Out was released in February this year and was the directorial debut from Jordan Peele, crossing the $100 million point made Peele the first black writer-director to do so with their debut movie.



The film shows Chris, a black man, going to meet his white girlfriend’s parents for the first time, insidious conversations and a creeping dread lead to finding out these wealthy white liberals have ulterior motives for meeting Chris ‘Just because you’re invited doesn’t mean you’re welcome’ being the films ominous tagline.

There’s classic horror themes here of gore and shock, along with Peele’s brilliant comedic writing, you’re never sure if you should be laughing, crying or screaming but it’s the real life horror of racism that has made this such a hugely acclaimed film.


Currently still holding a score of 99 percent on Rotten Tomatoes it’s clearly resonated with a huge audience and came at the right time in the current political climate. The film’s themes should speak to the Academy and show it’s much more than a throw away scary movie and should be seriously considered amongst the other serious topics of the dramas it would be up against for Best Picture.

Maybe there is hope for a Best Actor award with Daniel Kaluuya. With all the #oscarssowhite talk for the last couple of year’s, is it possible that a young black man could win up again veteran actors such as Tom Hanks and Gary Oldman? Probably not, but it was through Daniel that the film really works in his portrayal of Chris.

The audience, no matter the race, go through his every emotion from confusion to
terror and the publicity images of his tear soaked face are hard to ignore.


With their wide reaching themes, huge popularity and social commentary isn’t it time the Oscars took a peek inside the haunted house of horrors and saw that there are so much more than ghosts inside.

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