I'm late in posting this, but this is the awards season still. I saw some interesting differences in how horror is viewed by two different sets of judges who give out awards to horror films, and I want to look at how they compare. First:
On March 6th, the Vault of Horror blog announced the winners in its second annual Cyber-Horror Awards.
On March 7th, the Cinefantastique website announced the winners in their second annual Wonder Awards.
Both awards were determined by people writing about genre films. In the case of the Wonders, ("Wonsies"?) the writers for Cinefantastique website. For Cyber-Horror, ("Cybies"?) writers for horror blogs and other online sources.
It was interesting to compare the two results. The Wonder Awards are given for film achievements not just in horror, but the fantasy and science fiction genres as well, unlike the Cyber-Horror Awards. So, just limiting the look-see to horror nominees in the Wonder contest, let's check out where the nominations and awards overlapped-- and where they didn't.
For Best Film, the Wonsie nominations included Coraline and District 9. . I'd include both in the horror genre, though some say the former is fantasy (if dark), and the latter sci-fi. Of course, they're all of those things. The Cybie noms included neither of those films; the choices were Drag Me to Hell, Trick 'r' Treat, Zombieland, Grace and Thirst. Avatar won for Best film in the SOW awards, Trick'r'Treat pulled a surprise win in the C-H awards. Looks like the CF team doesn't think much was achieved in straight horror in 2009; VOH's group seems to like its horror strictly straight up.
There were no overlaps again for Best Director, but Neill Blomkamp was nominated for District 9 in the Wonsies.
For Best Actress:
Alison Lohman, Drag Me to Hell
Isabelle Fuhrman, Orphan
Jordan Ladd, Grace
Emily Browning, The Uninvited
Megan Fox, Jennifer’s Body
Again, the two awards don't seem to agree on what the best horror films were, or maybe even what a horror film is.
I understand that more judges are involved in the Cyber-Horror Awards than in the Wonder Awards, so it was interesting to me that the definition of horror seemed stricter with the former than the latter.
I asked Brian Solomon of Vault of Horror about it, and he said this:
"The results here are interesting. I enjoy the Wonders very much because they encompass all of genre cinema. But the CHAs focus strictly on horror--so you're bound to get a more thorough [emphasis mine] representation of that genre in particular. It's the nature of the beast! The Wonders draw their nominations from a comprehensive listing of all genre films, so those doing the nominating can choose anything they want. [That seems to me to buttress-- hehe, I said "butt"-- my point, Brian.]
"The CHAs also have a group of nominators, but we only really chose from a list of the year's horror releases, so naturally our picks were more strictly [again, emphasis mine] within the realm of horror than the Wonders. There were still some exceptions though, like Coraline."
Are contemporary horror film devotees unable to appreciate films that merely creepy and unnerving, or have sci-fi elements? Or just those who write about contemporary horror?
Does a horror film have to be "in your face" with gore to be good? Can a horror film have a "sense of wonder"?
More about the two awards and what makes for a good horror film in Part 2.