If you think that “seeing is believing” then you may want to think again. Minimalist horror as a movie genre is selling hot in the entertainment industry. Remember those good old flicks of the old that used to scare you with their blood-curdling screams and the sudden appearance or disappearance of something? Remember how that used to jerk you in your seat and scare you? Well, minimalist horror doesn’t make use of any of those techniques. It is almost free of any gore and other scenes that you may associate with a horror movie. Then what makes it a horror movie?
These movies work on the method of implication. They don’t really show as much as they imply or hint at something. So you’d probably see a door squeaking and expect some strange figure to walk in, but nothing of that sort happens. By such methods, the tension in the mind of the viewer heightens to an extent that it becomes a cause of fear and this is what makes these movies scary.
Perhaps the best example of minimalist horror is The Blair Witch Project which was released back in 1999. If you’ve seen this movie you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t you may want to watch it. It is a faux-documentary and is shot in the first-person, with just three people in it.
You almost start living the scenes with the actors as they move along their journey, another movie that falls in this genre is Paranormal Activity. Released last week, this movie too does the trick in the way the other one did… simply makes you believe there is something out there even though it isn’t shown.
The popularity of these movies can also to a great extent be attributed to the way they’ve been marketed. Both of them have made extensive use of viral marketing, a form of marketing where the social networks are flooded with the information relating to the movie. In the case of The Blair Witch Project this marketing was so successful that the rumours spread by the marketing team, “three people were lost in the forest and this camera footage of theirs was found a year later”, were believed to be true especially by the people who lived around the area where this film was shot. A similar technique has been used by Paranormal Activity, made by Oren Peli, which has been doing the rounds around the world for two years now, and was finally bought over by Paramount’s DreamWorks to be released last week.
The beauty of the two movies is that they seem original and thus very much real and shot by the actual people in the movie. They have no huge fanfare of a big star cast or scenic locations or even anything out of the ordinary homes of ordinary people. They are in fact low budget movies and are shot with hand-held cameras or security cameras under natural or minimal artificial lightning. So you not only believe you see what you don’t but you also believe that all of it is true and has happened for real to the people in the movie. No wonder with their initial, low budget investments and the huge popularity after release, both these movies have gone on to gross high revenues, shattering records of profit to cost ratios at the box office.