Uploaded by Kelly Hayden

West v East

Horror: The West vs. The Rest
Western and Eastern horror have always distinguished
themselves as two sides of the same genre. As the
internet became commonplace and access to media
increased, audiences could enjoy both sides. But what
is the actual difference between western and eastern
American horror is really fun. Even in tense or
frightening scenes, there is a sense of fun in scaring
the audience.
American horror was initially influenced by Christian
elements where good and evil were clearly defined,
showcased in its finest in “the Exorcist”. Then, as
puritanical values loosened, American movies focused on
horror via kill counts or violence. Sex and horror were
synonymous. They were made to be titillating.
That’s not to say movies such as Friday the 13th or
Return of the Living Dead are not excellent movies.
However, there is a focus on visceral violence or gory
special effects. Slashers and B-movies found a
comfortable home among American audiences.
Modern American horror movies such as The Conjuring
series or Hereditary take a fresh approach, focusing
heavily on atmospheric fear and a sense of unease.
America has little folklore to draw upon. This results
in stories that are written for artistic or commercial
Aside from some outliers like Get Out or Candyman,
American and European horror doesn’t usually draw from
societal experiences.
These movies simply exist just because. But that can be
a benefit, because without any cultural or societal
expectations, movies such as “The Lighthouse” can bring
an incredibly fresh perspective to the western horror
European horror
Later” or Dutch
style of horror
slow burns with
movies such as the British “28 Days
“The Vanishing” exemplify the European
filmmaking. These are typically very
little in terms of action or stylish
Instead, European horror focuses on a moody tone and
contemplative elements. The setting and atmosphere
grounds the movie, giving them a realistic feel.
Lacking are the mega mansions or summer camps, instead
the locations are usually relatable and lived in.
While American horror tends to use sex for comedic or
titillating purposes, European horror focuses on sex as
both a storytelling device and a natural element of the
characters' lives.
The Giallo genre in particular originated in Italy and
refers to pulpy, seedy crime novels. Sex and violence,
although generally framed artistically, is a staple of
Giallo movies. This genre infused with horror can be
found in the original 1977 Suspiria.
Often Eastern horror is lumped into one genre, referred
to as “Asian horror”. This is in part due to proximity
of the majority of Asian horror producing countries, as
well as similar folklore and history.
Primarily, Japan and Korea are the main producers of
domestic horror, with China and Thailand following
close behind them.
Japanese horror first hit the mainstream with Ringu in
1998. Ringu exemplifies a lot of the “Asian Horror”
tropes such as the long black-haired girl. But a lot of
Japanese horror is rooted in folklore, with the
aforementioned girl being an “Onryo” or vengeful ghost.
Vengeance and unfinished business are strong themes
throughout most Asian horror. Oftentimes the vengeful
ghost enacts some type of curse which the protagonists
must break. However, the curse is rarely broken by
violence. Instead, it is broken by understanding the
ghosts’ feelings and intentions.
This is in part why a lot of Asian horror is
melancholic and just sad in tone. We are meant to feel
sympathy for the entity due to the harsh life
circumstances that created them.
This theme exists throughout various Korean, Chinese
and Thai horror movies as well. It is up to the
protagonist to unravel the mystery of the vengeful
spirit and bring peace in order to end the bloodshed.
While in western horror, evil entities are viciously
extracted via exorcism, the Shinto and Buddhist
influences can be seen as the spirits in Asian horror
are gently put to rest.
Horror is a genre in which a large majority of
characters are women, victims or not, and this is
extremely apparent in Eastern horror. The protagonists,
the shamans, the best friends, and the ghosts are
oftentimes women. Oftentimes the true evil of the movie
is the man who caused the woman so much duress that she
becomes a vengeful spirit, as is the case in Thai
masterpiece “Shutter”.
School settings are often common however this is really
no surprise as when you spend 6 days per week of your
formative years at school, it leaves an impression.
Social commentary is a large influence over Korean
horror in particular as of late, where movies such as
“Parasite” and “The Wailing” twisting the genre into
brilliant movies and utilising horror to paint an
exaggerated picture of real-world problems.
Horror, no matter from which country, director, or
studio, should be celebrated. It is a genre which is
often ignored for deserved major awards, but relatively
recognised in film festivals.
Dismissed by general audience goers except for a fun
date night romp, the artistry and unbound creativity
inherent in horror cannot be overstated. It can be
infused with any other genre to create an array of
cinematic experiences.
Now that we are entering a new renaissance on both
sides of the world for horror, the potential for fresh
and interesting ideas is limitless.