The essence of horror is horror. A potent amalgam of fear, terror, and revulsion. The first masterpiece written in the English language, Beowulf, is full of blood and gore. Shakespeare was fond of horror too. I recently saw a production of Macbeth that made liberal use of buckets of the red stuff. And then we have the Gothic novels of the 18th and 19th centuries. Magnificent books, that not only make us shudder, but also explore lofty philosophical ideas.
I’ve always loved horror, but I can’t help feeling that somewhere along the line—over the last 20 years or so—the genre has lost its way. It doesn’t take itself quite so seriously. Is anybody attempting to address the big questions anymore? Does God exist? Is there life after death? Is there more to the universe than meets the eye? Horror is less likely these days to exercise its intellectual muscle. Indeed, the genre has become increasingly associated with younger audiences and teen romance.