Why Horror? (2014)

(On Cable TV, November 2014) While being called a “horror fan” may not carry as big a social stigma as it used to in a pre-Walking Dead era, professing to love horror can still earn a few alarmed stares.  Why Horror? tries to answer its own titular question by tagging along horror super-fan Tal Zimerman as he muses about the reasons that attracted him to the horror genre.  Writers/directors Nicolas Kleiman and Rob Lindsay follow Zimmerman as he questions his parents, undergoes an MRI scan, travels around the world and has sensors applied to his skin as he watches horror movies with his mom.  A somewhat amusing animated segment attempts to summarize the history of horror movies in five minutes, but Why Horror? isn’t a history of horror as much as it’s a level-headed but enthusiastic attempt to explain why some people are drawn to the genre.  Is it about “safe scares”?  Is it about seeking to understand our own death?  Is it about grim laughter in the face of mortality?  Is it about being shocked away from our safe realities?  All of those answers, and more, are valid –if there’s any conclusion from the film, it’s that various people seek horror for their own reasons, and while fans, filmmakers, authors, sociologists and cultural anthropologist can all poke at the question in their own way, it remains a very personal answer.  In passing, Why Horror? touches upon the twenty-first century mainstreaming of horror, the presence of women in making and enjoying horror, the way the genre is perceived around the world (the films starts and ends in Toronto, with stops in London, New York, Mexico and Japan) and why horror movies make such great date nights.  Interviews with people such as Eli Roth, the Soska sisters, George Romero, John Carpenter and others –including a few people I swear I’ve met at Toronto-area conventions.   As a documentary, Why Horror? is a competent effort, perhaps a bit rough around the edges but it definitely offers a few answers to its central question. 

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