Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A24 has found its stride in horror

A24 Films expands its production of arthouse horror films
Image courtesy of IMDB.

A24 Films has been at the forefront of arthouse cinema, being recognized during the past awards season for films like “Everything Everywhere All At Once” and popular television shows like “Euphoria.” More recently, A24 has been producing a large number of horror films, with new titles such as “Beau Is Afraid,” “Maxxine” and “Talk To Me.” So, why the sudden push for horror? The answer lies within the audience.

Films under the horror category are some of A24’s most popular and critically acclaimed films.  “Hereditary” (2018) directed by A24 favorite, Ari Aster, follows a family who discovers a generational curse and cult dating back centuries, while navigating a recent tragedy. The film scored a 90 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, which is a high score for a horror movie.

Aster did not stop at “Hereditary,” directing “Midsommar” the following year and “Beau is Afraid” in 2022. Despite Aster’s acclaim, “Beau is Afraid”  is not predicted to break even at the box office. Aster’s new film is considered the biggest A24 “flop” yet, though the company has managed to create a cult following for its varying horror films.

Aster’s collection of A24 Films are not for the faint of heart. The films feature frightening depictions of different mental illnesses taking over the characters that can be disturbing for even seasoned horror fans. With disturbing, graphic scenes and deeply unsettling ideas featured in every film, it is shocking to see the mainstream popularity of these films. Aster has since become a well-known director praised for breaking out of the traditional horror mold and blending  horror elements with the arthouse expertise A24 is so well known for.

With 49 nominations for the Academy Awards alone, and various film festival award nominations and wins, A24 has made a name for itself in the film industry. Historically, the Oscars and horror films never seem to mix, and no exception has been made for A24 Films.

Although the recent demand and success of A24’s horror movies were high, many viewers feel these films cross the line by being overly disturbing or nonsensical. In straying from more lighthearted and cinematic productions such as “Ladybird” or “Moonlight,” A24 has shifted gears in a way that may not be the most palatable for past audiences.

None of A24’s films in the horror category have won, or even been nominated for, an Academy Award. With much buzz surrounding top titles like “Hereditary,” “Midsommar” and “Pearl,” it comes as a shock that horror films continue to lack recognition among the bigger award events.

With Ti West’s “X” film trilogy scoring a whopping 94 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, it remains a mystery why these films continue to fall short of receiving major awards. Do we not take horror seriously enough? Does it scare us too much to give these films power? Are we afraid that by nominating these films, we let the disturbing horrors of a world similar to ours “win ?”

Perhaps horror contains a commentary on life that we want to refuse to admit that we see.

These unanswerable questions continue to plague the horror community as time and time again, the horror film category is cast aside and seemingly forgotten.

This new wave of horror cinema may not appeal to a large audience, but it is fair to say that A24 has found its niche in combining arthouse indie filmmaking with dark, psychological horror themes. It can be difficult, and at times almost impossible, to watch scenes from A24’s growing horror movie collection. It’s hard to sympathize with a character who is portrayed as evil or dissect the deeper meaning of a brutally violent scene.

As grueling as these films can be at times, A24’s continuous push of horror offers a different perspective of our modern society. With films touching on mental illness, family dynamics, drugs and everyday aspects of human life, there is a feeling of uncomfortable familiarity to A24’s arthouse horror films.

The human experience is complex and impossible to fully grasp. In gaining a new perspective through these films, a new category of horror is born. These films focus on characters who have threads of similarities and conflicts connected to the average viewer, instead of being filled with meaningless jump scares and characters that are scary for the sake of being scary.

A24’s newest horror movie releases are “Maxxine,” the final installment of the “X” trilogy, projected to be released sometime this year or next and “Talk to Me,” to be released in theaters July 28.

Olivia Baier can be reached at [email protected].

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

All Massachusetts Daily Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • H

    Hannah ScottMay 16, 2023 at 6:51 pm

    Amazing thoughts Olivia! Enjoyed reading this.