You're Killing Me: 8 lessons from horror's (mostly) horrible 2014
With a slew of major commercial (and often critical) hits like "The Conjuring," "Insidious: Chapter 2," "World War Z," "Warm Bodies" and the terrific "Evil Dead" remake, 2013 was a great year for horror. 2014? Eeh...let's just say the business of fright was a little weak.
And it wasn't just the numbers, which were bad enough - only 4 horror films broke $50 million domestic this year as compared with last year's 9 - but the quality of the films themselves that disappointed. If we're being honest, the number of truly worthwhile mainstream horror films this year can probably be counted on one hand.
So what did we learn from horror's (mostly) horrible 2014? Below are 8 lessons we'll be taking away.
Lesson #1: Even in a down year, horror remains the most consistently profitable genre
Judging strictly by budget-to-worldwide gross ratio, the only true flop this year was the bloated Aaron Eckhart reboot "I, Frankenstein," which took in $71 million across the globe on a $65 million budget. Otherwise, you'd be hard-pressed to find an actual dud among this year's crop. Not only does critical opinion mean little to the genre, but costs are kept so low for the majority of these films that, if marketed right, finishing in the black seems a near-inevitability.
Lesson #2: Quality is moot
While this could apply to basically any film genre, the percentage of critical stinkers among this year's Top 10 grossers is pitifully high. Only one of them, in fact - the inventive haunted-mirror flick "Oculus" - finished with a "Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Lesson #3: James Wan is the undisputed king of horror
Look at this: "Annabelle" brought in $252 million on a budget of only $6.5 million, making it the highest-grossing and no doubt most profitable horror film of the year by far. Though Wan didn't direct the "Conjuring" spinoff, he produced it and has been a major creative and commercial force in the genre for over a decade now, building a mini empire that has spawned three major horror franchises. Last year he directed both "The Conjuring" and "Insidious Chapter 2," which together grossed nearly $500 million worldwide. Safe to say there's no other current horror director who can boast that kind of resume.
Lesson #4: Found footage is on the downswing, but let's face it - these movies aren't going anywhere
Remember the found footage craze spawned by "Paranormal Activity" a few years ago? It's still here! True, these films are beginning to fall out of favor with audiences. The latest installment in the "Paranormal" franchise ("The Marked Ones") brought in only $32 million domestic and $90 million worldwide, making it by far the lowest-grossing of the entire series. Still, the films are so cheap to make Hollywood really has no reason at this point to stop churning them out. Indeed, this year's crop included two other commercially successful films, "As Above/So Below" ($40 million worldwide, $5 million budget) and "Devil's Due" ($36 million worldwide, $7 million budget).