As any student of cinema history already knows, the blockbuster era came about by scaring viewers senseless.
Jaws hit theaters like a tidal wave in the summer of ’75, and nothing was the same again. For one thing, not one person in the world went back to the beach for the rest of the year. More importantly, though, summer suddenly became the season for big-tent crowdpleasers. That objective would eventually usher in Will Smithian fare and all the Marvel offerings. During that first summer, however, it was all about the fear of jagged, Ginsu-sharp teeth flossing with your torso-skin.
Steven Spielberg’s beloved shark thriller may be a marvel of craft and storytelling, but it also shares some DNA with horror movies. Perhaps that’s why “Summer Horror Movies” remains a genre unto itself to this day. Have a look below at Fast Company‘s breakdown of the five kinds of SHMs and which ones will have you gripping your seatmate’s triceps this year.
Blockbusters are studio horror movies with a lot of money behind them and some kind of built-in event element. Think 2013’s The Conjuring, which unearthed every classic scare tactic–from evil toy to exorcism–to reap in high grosses and spawn its own cinematic universe.
This year’s primary would-be Blockbuster is the late-summer entry It. The Stephen King adaptation–a remake if you count the terrifying 1990 TV movie–had a troubled production that saw filmmaker Cary Fukunaga come and go. A tantalizingly dark first trailer, however, has fans’ hopes high.
The Franchise is what nearly every Summer Horror Movie aspires to be; well, except for those that kill off their entire casts, and even then sometimes the sequels keep coming. Although horror franchises like Saw and Paranormal Activity are often saved for Halloween, summertime scary movies like The Purge or Insidious keep viewers coming back.
Alien: Covenant already came and went this year, but the spinoff spawn of the aforementioned Conjuring series, Annabelle: Creation, is out this Friday, from director David F. Sandberg of last summer’s surprise horror hit, Lights Out.
Arthouse horror movies are those with high style, low body count, all the atmosphere you can handle, and a pronounced, proud lack of jump scares. Usually, these movies tend to come out earlier in the year, like recent entries The Witch, It Follows, Under the Skin, and Only Lovers Left Alive. This summer, however, has seen the releases of the French cannibal thriller, Raw, Trey Edward Shultz’s post-apocalyptic It Comes At Night, and the just-released, unstuck-in-time mood-piece, A Ghost Story, starring Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck.
Look, we all work hard. Life is tough. Sometimes you just want to walk into a movie theater and see some garbage where a bunch of idiots die in dumb ways. That’s the essence of Schlock. It’s not great, it’s the best kind of terrible, and it gets the job done. Think the Chernobyl Diaries or Unfriended or pretty much any found footage horror movie. Open Water 3 is technically Schlock and a Franchise movie, but it’s going straight to VOD on August 11, so it doesn’t quite count. This year’s other Jaws descendant, 47 Meters Down, already came out, but still to come is July 14’s Wish Upon, featuring a mysterious, wish-granting music box that will almost certainly not cause the deaths of any teenagers.
Finally, there’s the Dark Horse. These are the ones you don’t see coming, and then–kablammy–it’s the best horror movie of the season. Last year, for example, few would have thought that Don’t Breathe and The Shallows would prove way more fun than The Conjuring 2 and all the other summer offerings. Sure enough, that’s the way it played out. Now, Fast Company is not officially endorsing Polaroid as an official Dark Horse release of 2017, but its The Ring-meets-a camera premise certainly has us intrigued.