Since the birth of cinema the genre of horror has been in constant change. Nothing ever stays the same, and what scared us when things were black and white or campy, don't scare us now. In a world of the internet, creepypastas, and technology things constantly develop and change - meaning what scares us in a horror movie has changed as well.
Modern day horror movies have been subjected to a new ideaology of recreation like many other projects in Hollywood. Access to newer technology means things can be done better and more bloodier than they would have been done in the past. This means that there has been a (annoying) resurragence of reboots and remakes of classic movies that scared us back in the 60's, 70's and 80's, Some are sequels, some are simply recreations, but either way it has become clear that the face of the horror genre has changed again - even if it hasn't neccessarily changed its face. But who are the ones carving the name for themselves in this modern time in the same way that they carve the flesh of their victims?
Just who are these New Agers and who is the Ultimate Face of Horror in this new age?
Pennywise The Dancing Clown - 2017
Starring: Originally depicted as the campy Bill Curry, the new face of Stephen King's novel IT is Bill Skargard - a member of the Hollywood alum family of Skarsgards. And did you know the Hemlock Grove star can really make his eyes look in two different directions like Pennywise can?
Sequels: The 2007 IT is a reboot of the popular 90's movie of the same name, but unlike it's predesscor the haunting tale has been split into two, meaning IT Part 2 will be out in 2019.
Signature Look: Pennywise is a shape-shifting demon, but he takes his main horrifying form as a clown. Because of this he has stark white face paint, creepy red painted clown lines through his eyes, a high fore-head, red hair, and crazy yellow eyes.
Motivation: Pennywise is a mysterious evil being in which not much is initially revealed, but it becomes apparent that he is here on Earth for the specific reason to kill and feed itself. He likes to prey on innocent children because he feeds off the fear that is more paramount in them.
Death Count: 4 deaths that are directly related to Pennywise's manipulations in the movie, but he is credited for many more that occur off screen every 27 years. There is also 1 death caused by Beverly Marsh and doesn't have much correlation to Pennywise.
The Nun - 2016
Starring: The demonic nun first burst onto the scene as a haunting image in the movie The Conjuring 2 and was played by Bonnie Aarons.
Sequels: After the success of the terrifying character in The Conjuring 2, she was given her own backstory and spin-off in 2018's The Nun. Based on success of The Conjuring universe, The Nun may get a sequel in the future.
Signature Look: The nun is dressed in the classic nun's habit and gown of the convents at the time, with a white trimmed habit covering her hair. Her skin is mottled grey and she has black around her eyes and her mouth.
Motivation: The demon Valak, who takes the form of the nun in the films, preys on fear and insecurities, in order to possess a host and free itself from it's pit of Hell.
Death Count: The death count on behalf of The Nun is a bit obscure as it is not completely known how many nuns were in the convent during the time of the hauntings. There are atleast three nuns who are dead (including the two who die at the start and the one under the sheet) but there has also been five other nuns who appear as ghosts in the confirmed abandoned convent. Whether there was any more remains to be seen, but you can count on atleast eight nun deaths.
The Babadook - 2014
Starring: Tim Purcell took on the role of the mysterious entity of The Babadook that roamed a poor lonely widow's house. While The Babadook had a specific look, it is more representative of modern day horror as being a mysterious ghost of presence in the house, which is more common amongst horrors nowadays.
Sequels: No sequels
Signature Look: The Babadook creeps out of the shadows dressed all in black, wearing a top hat and having black tufts of hair coming out. He is a foreboding figure with a large inhuman mouth with teeth and pale white kin and claw like fingernails.
Motivation: The Babadook is originally a creature from a children's storybook, quite like the boogeyman, who haunts the family as an exploration of repressed emotions and grief, rather than as a creature in need of a feed or a poltergiest who just wants to cause mayhem. Like I mentioned before, it is more representative of the reality of horror being in humans and their emotional state, rather than scary creatures who don't really scare us anymore.
Death Count: No one is killed directly by The Babadook, but a dog does die in the film.
Slenderman - 2018
Starring: Horror movies of the modern age are less about evil killers or supernatural monsters - today they are about the devestation and horror behind the face of humanity, and this is represented in utilising the internet, memes, and fake news. Slender Man is the ultimate representation of the horrors of the internet and in 2018 he is played Javier Botet.
Sequels: None, though there are many works of ficition on the Slenderman.
Signature Look: The Slenderman is unnaturally tall with enlongated limbs and a faceless head. He is depicted as wear a rather handsome black suit on his slender frame.
Motivation: There are no rules when it comes to Slenderman as he is a figment of the internet's imagination. Even in the online world, Slender Man's motivations for killing children are unclear, and remains so for the movie as well. While this makes his motivations unpredicatable, his targets are usually the same, making it less horror and more creepy.
Death Count: 4 children, with assumptions he is responsible for many more disappearances
And the winner is.... Pennywise the Dancing Clown!
The face of horror nowadays is hard to define because it kind of doesn't really have a specific face anymore. The real scary things in this world is humanity, and whether that takes the form of cruelty on the internet, human emotion, zombies, or simply normal people doing horrible things, the modern face of horror can't be pinned down to one characterisation.
But Pennywise the Dancing Clown from IT is the closest thing we can get to that. Not only is Pennywise a demon who feeds on fear and is "fear itself" but he is also the embodiment of claurophobia - the fear of clowns. People in the real world are actually terrified by this jovially evil creature who has the power to become and make you see your worst fears, so even though he doesn't neccesarily have a large kill count in the film itself, his scare-factor stretches way beyond the realm of the screen.
The makes him a powerful character and an easy winner for The Modern Age Ultimate Face of Horror Death Match. But just how will he fair against the horror juggernauts of Dracula and Jason Voorhees? Find out soon in my final Ultimate Face of Horror Death Match!