'127 Hours' and 'Black Swan' are horror movies.
No, really. They are. Don't let the Oscar buzz and critical accolades for James Franco's performance fool you into thinking Danny Boyle's film about a mountain climber literally caught between a rock and a hard place is an "uplifting drama." No. It's a horror movie. Don't let its heavy presence on the festival circuit and the buzz around Natalie Portman's lead performance fool you into thinking Darren Aronofsky's story of a ballerina on the verge of madness is a "psychological thriller." Wrong. It's a horror movie.
Does this sound slightly defensive right off the bat? You bet it does. Horror has always been the red headed stepchild of the movie genres, existing in its own little corner while all of the other "legitimate" genres hog the critical spotlight. When a drama is good, it wins a handful of awards. When a horror movie is good, it's treated like a shocking surprise.
Why do '127 Hours' and 'Black Swan' look poised to rake up the Oscar nominations when quality horror films like 'Let Me In' are given a pat on the head for not being terrible and then shuffled off into oblivion? It's obvious that the Academy (and most critics) have a strong bias against horror films, but why? And really, what makes these two critical darlings all that different than a traditional entry in this much-maligned genre?