If you checked Twitter today and saw Alien trending, it wasn’t for some news about an upcoming installment in the franchise. It was because a question rocked Twitter to it’s very core. It was posed by journalist Elle Hunt.
Questions like these might seem blasphemous to most, but they actually pose an interesting argument. Like heavy metal, horror has approximately millions of subgenres. Everything that lives under the umbrella of horror has subgenres under that genre. Science Fiction is a separate genre, but sometimes those two crossover. Films like Alien, Event Horizon, and Jason X all share qualities. Hunt argues here that horror cannot be set in space. She says in a later Tweet:
Horror is predicated on the fear of the other, the unfamiliar in the world as we know it – space, we already don’t know itElle Hunt
An Argument That Can’t Be Easily Dismissed
You could very easily dismiss this, and break the heading that I have typed above, but if you really think about it, there is something there. We supposedly know everything about our world that we need to know. We know very little about the space surrounding our Earth. Everything in the far reaches of space is completely foreign to us. The things that live on our plane that we don’t know are incredibly terrifying. Whether that’s a new virus, why someone chooses to kill, or something else that belongs in the halls of horror.
While I don’t believe that sci-fi and horror are mutually exclusive, This viewpoint about the world around is a solid one. I’m not apt to dismiss it outright, but I would much prefer a world where genres blend and mix. It leads to better stories and more original ideas.
Films like Alien and Event Horizon follow similar tropes that horror invented. Alien in particular follows the formula with a “final girl” and a familiarity with your surroundings that’s upended. The Xenomorph in the original film is very much a slasher villain that picks off the crew one by one, until it’s outsmarted by Ripley.
At The End Of The Day, Reducing Films To Boxes And Genres Isn’t Helpful
Following this whole argument, it leads to the path of where do we categorize films? While films need genre, reducing a film as great as Alien, or even the supremely underrated Event Horizon down to “sci-fi or horror” doesn’t do anyone any good. If you’re a massive sci-fi fan, you can enjoy those films. If you’re a huge horror buff, those films are just as enjoyable. It’s the magic when you combine genres and can find something new or interesting. Near Dark is a horror-western. The upcoming Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness is shaping up to be one of the first superhero-horror films. It’s something that Marvel does to perfection.
Horror isn’t defined by time or place or even structure. You watch a horror film to get a response, and they overlap across genres. Why block off the ability to see something as one genre or another?
So, what does this argument lead to? Probably a whole lot of people dogpiling on a journalist on Twitter because she posed an interesting question. instead of yelling and screaming like she’s stepping all over the legacy of the films, maybe you can actually consider the argument.
For more on Horror, make sure to check back to That Hashtag Show.
Horror can be set anywhere, and take place under almost any circumstance.
That’s because Horror is NOT the setting, or monster, or events. Horror is the characters REACTING to the setting, monster, events, and so on. The Xenomorph is gruesome, but so are a lot of scifi aliens. What makes the film horror is the audience being able to feel the crew’s mounting terror and dread when dealing with the Xenomorph.