When the remake of Suspiria was recently screened for the first time at the Venice Film Festival reports indicated that many people walked out before the film ended, while others booed at the screen as the end credits rolled. At the same time other reports emerged saying audiences were thrilled with the film, whistling and cheering at the end.
While all genres of cinema have the potential to polarize audiences, there seems to be something about some horror movies which really splits the fans right down the middle. The reaction to Suspiria is unsurprising, given the cult film pedigree of Dario Argento's original classic (which itself received mixed reactions upon its release, gathering diehard fans in the decades since its release), but it is far from a unique event, even if you only count divisive horror films released in 2018.
Remaking and tampering with a well respected classic isn't the only reason why some horror films receive such a polarizing reaction from audiences. Whether it's overhype, misleading marketing campaigns or even directors pushing things a little too far, some horror movies end up dividing audiences as efficiently as Leatherface wielding a chainsaw through a victim.
10. A Serbian Film
There's little doubt that Srđan Spasojević's cinematic debut A Serbian Film is a disturbing and challenging watch. As horror films go it features some exceptionally graphic imagery, not least the notorious "newborn porn" scene, just one of several gross moments in a film which explores pedophilia and necrophilia through an unflinching lens.
The audience may have been on the same page when it comes to just how extreme the gore and violence is, but were notably split on whether or not it is actually a good horror movie. Spasojević claimed that the film was a metaphor for the war which raged in Serbia during the 1990s, at once a critique of the stagnated landscape of Serbian cinema and a "denouncement of the fascism of political correctness."
Fans of extreme cinema were happy to go along with his justification for the excessive sexual violence and sadism. But for others it was little more than repulsive filmmaking, with a flimsy justification tagged onto a crude exploitation movie for the sake of artistic credibility. Few contemporary horror films have generated such controversy while deserving every bit of it.