Alfred Hitchcock, without a doubt, is one of the best directors of all time. But as I watch his films, whether it be Psycho, Rope, Rear Window, or Dial M for Murder, I find that it lacks the “appropriate amount of scary” for today’s viewing audience. Now before you take out your pitchforks and boycott this essay, I would like to say one thing. I am a huge fan of Hitchcock, and this essay is in no way trying to take away his filmmaking achievements. But in my opinion, I believe that horror films today have gotten a little repetitive. Each film has something to do with exorcisms or a child being haunted by a spirit in the house. Thus leaving little room for the thrillers of yesterday.
Before I go in-depth on Alfred Hitchcock’s career, I want to first take it back just a few years. I want to reminisce over a current director’s work who was heavily influenced by the work of Hitchcock, even going as far as to include himself in cameos throughout his films. Have you guessed it yet? Yes, it is none other than M. Night Shyamalan. I’m sorry. I went there. But to be fair, everyone was terrified when Shyamalan debuted “The Sixth Sense.” Even today I cannot watch this film. But as he continued his filmmaking career he seemed to digress. Delivering more “ watered down thrillers” instead of actual terrifying films. Now you can debate which film drew blood from Shyamalan first. Was it the paralyzed “Unbreakable” or the blind “Village?” Following there after with the fatal punches of “Lady in the Water and “The Happening.”
But in relating the failing filmmaking career of Shyamalan back to Hitchcock, it seems that they have more similarities than differences. Blasphemy, you say? How could I relate Hitchcock to Shyamalan? Well if you look at the filmography of Hitchcock, you can see how he never really made a “scary films.” Hitchcock didn’t really dabble into the realm of scary until later in his career. His one true scary film, in my opinion, was Psycho. The image of Anthony Perkins dressed like his mother and wielding a butcher’s knife, has yet to leave my memory. The fear of Janet Leigh’s death was so realistic for some people, they feared taking a shower. Hitchcock’s films like North by Northwest, Strangers on a Train, and Vertigo, weren’t so much scary but thrillers at their best. He took viewers on a whirlwind of twist and turns, only for the viewers’ believed conclusion to be nowhere near the film’s ending twist.
So I ask you, would Hitchcock be able to stand the test of time if he didn’t have the recognition he received over 50 years ago? Maybe if Hitchcock came out today, he could change filmmaking once again. But we constantly see directors come on the scene and fail at becoming something great. Is it because their movies were bad? Maybe. Or are we, as an audience, refusing to see certain genres. Maybe “The Village” wasn’t such a bad movie. Maybe one day Shyamalan can be the director that he was meant to be. Or maybe he is a man that was chasing an era that no longer existed.