Horror director Scott Derrickson doesn't like the term "Elevated Horror"
'I think when people use that term, it is because they think that horror is actually crap.'
In recent years, a term has been bandied about a lot when it comes to a specific type of scary movie, and that term is "Elevated Horror".
Essentially, it has become a shorthand for a scary movie with a higher-than-usual IQ (or, at least, higher-than-percieved-to-be-usual IQ), giving the audience more than just a monster with a big knife chasing after lust-filled teenagers in their underwear.
The term does initially seem to be a compliment, except that it also immediately undoes any good will that might have been built towards the rest of the genre. Horror classics like Halloween or Scream wouldn't fall into that category, so should they be considered less-than?
This is a question we posed to director Scott Derrickson when we had the opportunity to chat to him in the run-up to the release of his new scary movie, The Black Phone.
Derrickson has previously directed horror movies The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Sinister and Deliver Us From Evil, as well as Marvel's Doctor Strange, and was due to direct the sequel Multiverse Of Madness, but dropped out due to apparent creative differences.
Instead, he moved on to this project, which sees him adapting a short story by Joe Hill, the son of none other than Stephen King. Check out our chat with Derrickson (as well as some of his cast, Mason Thames and Madeleine McGraw) right here:
During the interview, in which Derrickson also reveals his favourite scary movie of all time, and some comparisons between his new horror movie and Stephen King's IT, we brought up the topic of "Elevated Horror", and asked him for his thoughts.
Derrickson told us the following:
"I think it is a bit of cynical phrase, to be honest with you. We don't talk about 'elevated action movie', or 'elevated thriller'. I think when people use that term, what they're betraying is a kind of conviction that horror is kind of slumming, that horror is actually crap, horror is actually bottom-dwelling, which it's not!
"There are garbage movies in every genre, and sure there are a lot of crappy exploitation films that don't really merit consideration, but that is true of every genre. So do I believe in elevated horror? No, I think there are good horror films and bad horror films, and there are great horror films.
"If the [term] 'elevated horror' applies to anything, in my opinion, it applies to the handful of horror films that have really ascended into high art. I think Hereditary is an elevated horror film, because it came along at a time when no-one was trying to do that auteur horror filmmaking. It was an arthouse film first, and a horror film second.
"The same is true of It Follows, the same is true of The Witch. Those [directors] are making some highly elevated horror, but again, my love for Dario Argento [comes from] him making the highest, most elevated horror that you can make.
"But I think, typically, when people say 'elevated horror', what they mean is 'It's not crap, it's not dreck, it's not just terrible!'. So, for the most part, I think a good movie is a good movie, and a great movie is a great movie, and we tried to make a great horror film with The Black Phone, so if you want to call it anything, call it that."
The Black Phone arrives in Irish cinemas on Wednesday, 22 June. You can also check out our interview with Ethan Hawke, who plays the movie's monstrous child-snatcher, right here: