And no, it has nothing to do with how we’re steadily approaching the spookiest time of the year. It’s more about the current studio structure, and how it has a soft spot for low-budget horror flicks that can be distributed cheaply and potentially make their budgets back at the box office many times over.
With a few famous exceptions, horror movies just don’t cost that much to make. Some of the best rely on realistic environments and tension, which for our purposes here translates to, “cheap sets and long lulls of nothing happening.”
The first ‘Paranormal Activity’ was made by some kids for a reported $15K, then ended up making just under $200 million for the studio, as well as spurring the start of a longwinded franchise that capitalized on name recognition and a tried and true story structure.
And while PA is pretty far from an artistic achievement, it helped pave the way for some genuinely innovative young filmmakers to step up to the plate. ‘Get Out’ cost less than $5 million. Compare that to any of the Marvel films, which tend to cost about $150 million, just for the production. The fantastic ‘Hereditary’ from earlier this year cost just $10 million to make.
Apart from cringe-inducing independent films that no one sees, horror films are the only area of the entertainment industry where new talent is not just appreciated but encouraged. Experimentation is welcomed because the stakes are just so incredibly low. Only time will tell whether this will help influence studios to take a chance on different varieties of small films in the future.