Is it just me, or are horror films trying too hard to be funny?

(Image credit: Blumhouse)

Hollywood has been serving up its fair share of horror remakes over the last few years, reintroducing classic villains to new audiences. But there now seems to be a trend of updating these stories so that they cross over into the comedy genre, too.

Shane Black’s 2018 addition to the Predator franchise pretty much has
a joke locked and loaded in every scene, as we follow a group of PTSD-suffering military men who team up to take down the titular menace (and let’s face it, most of those jokes didn’t land). With Black on directing and writing duties, there was no doubt his trademark wit would be built into the script, but The Predator seemed so far removed from the 1987 original, in terms of tone, actual scares and carefully deployed humour, that it’s hard to accept they exist in the same series.

Likewise, the Halloween reboot pushed horror into rib-tickling territory courtesy of writers David Gordon Green and Danny McBride. The film is a legacy sequel to the original movie and sees Jamie Lee Curtis return as Laurie Strode, but despite Green and McBride making a point of not cracking any jokes until after the first kill, as soon as they are introduced, the tension fizzles right out.

(Image credit: Vertigo)

Then there’s Lars Klevberg’s Child’s Play, which was always going to be mirthful (I mean, we’re dealing with a killer doll), but while the original film’s laughs were more unintentional, the 2019 remake’s punchlines – written by Tyler Burton Smith – were cynically deliberate. As was the decision to retcon the supernatural backstory of Chucky and give Andy a troop of friends to go on Goonies-like adventures with, which only made the film seem more innocent, not more creepy, than the 1988 version.

Don’t get me wrong – comedy being utilised in horror to relieve the tension after a particularly gnarly kill can and does work. But recent remakes seem to be taking too much of the meta mick out of the original films they are based on, or the genre, in order to pander to a wider audience. When I leave a horror movie, I want to have jumped out of my seat in fear far more than shaken with mirth, and this trend of horror- comedies is preventing me from getting properly terrified... or is it just me?

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Freelance writer

Hanna Flint is a freelance film and TV critic who has bylines at GamesRadar+, Total Film magazine, Variety, BBC Culture, The Guardian, British GQ, IGN, Yahoo Movies, and so many other publications. Hanna has also appeared as a critic and commentator on Sky News, Sky Cinema, BBC World Service, and BBC Radio 5 Live, and can be frequently found as a Q&A host at MTV UK, BFI, and BAFTA. When Hanna isn't writing reviews, interviews, and long-form features about the latest film and TV releases, she specializes in topics concerning representation and diversity.