Why Horror Movies Will Disappoint in 2023 – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

Why Horror Movies Will Disappoint in 2023

In the entertainment world, just like in life, everything has its season. As the iconic song from The Byrds goes, “To everything – turn, turn, turn. There is a season – turn, turn, turn.” This sentiment holds true for films, where genres rise and fall in popularity based on ever-evolving tastes. From romance to horror, each genre has its moment in the spotlight. Unfortunately, horror movies have struggled to impress their fan base in recent years. This is not surprising, as the film industry as a whole has been hit or miss. Genres that are considered hits or misses rarely achieve huge seasonal successes. However, horror fans are a devoted bunch and always seem eager for something new. As time passes, their expectations continue to rise, and the need for a fresh take on the genre grows stronger.

As we approach the end of the year, horror fans are left wondering if the 2023 cinematic season will be a disappointment. The next two quarters will bring a plethora of horror content for fans, but the question remains: Will it satisfy? Half of the upcoming horror films are sequels to famous franchises, and a few are fresh takes. While this seems like everything a horror fan could want, it’s important to remember that sequels and reboots don’t always fare well. With each installment, the risk of rehashing the same material increases, and franchises often weaken in content as time progresses. Four of the upcoming horror films are part of highly successful franchises, but all have a long line of existing features, which tips the odds unfavorably.

Two films in the remaining quarter fall into the standalone category, where an initial release was enough to tell a good story. However, building on the success of a standalone film can be challenging, as it’s essential to understand the factors that contributed to its success and how to effectively expand on the storyline without regurgitating old material or jumping the shark with incredulous storylines. The odds are not favorable for success in this category.

The fate of the latter season ultimately depends on the performance of earlier releases given this calendar year. Unfortunately, the first quarter did not lay a firm foundation for the upcoming quarter, and the forecast is less than sunny. While there is a fair amount of investment from fans of long-term horror franchises to buoy expectations, it’s uncertain if it will be enough to maintain them. The odds do not look promising, but only time will tell.

In conclusion, horror fans are eagerly anticipating the upcoming horror films set to release in the next two quarters. However, the risk of disappointment looms large, as the odds are not in favor of success. While franchises and standalone films both have their own sets of challenges, building on momentum and setting a firm foundation is crucial for success. As we wait to see what the future holds for the horror genre, it’s essential to remember that every season has a beginning and an end, and we must embrace the changes that come with it.

For everything, there is a season. The Byrds once encapsulated this sentiment in their feature song, a catchy release with an echoing refrain, “To everything – turn, turn, turn. There is a season – turn, turn, turn.” And films are no different. In the movie verse, much is seasonal, meaning features may be in vogue one day and out of style the next.

Across the board, genres are targets of ever-evolving tastes. From romance to horrorthey each have their days in the sun. Unfortunately, for one specific genre, the years have been harsh. For the most part, horror movies haven’t wowed their fan base in years. But that’s no surprise. The general trend of films of late is hit or miss.


Genres typified as hits or misses never equate to huge seasonal successes. It is, therefore, good that fans are forward-looking. Given their devotion to the genre, they rarely throw in the towel. There always seems to be a waiting audience at the ready, not merely wanting but needing a switch-up.

The more time that has passed, the more jaded fans become. With two-quarters behind us and two more to go, horror fans fear whether the 2023 cinematic season will be cumulatively dreadful. As we look at what’s behind and what’s ahead, here is a look at how horror movies this year might disappoint or, at the very least, be a toss-up.

Horror Films on the Horizon

The Nun 2 Story Is Teed Up, Will Probably Be Next Conjuring Spin-Off (1)
Warner Bros. Pictures

The next two quarters will bring a plethora of horror content for horror connoisseurs. There is nothing more delightful or enticing than the menu of choices. But enticement and anticipation can also be a double-edged sword. While such helps to build appetites, they can also deflate spirits.

There is no doubting the greater the hype, the greater the potential disappointment to follow. Moviegoers are in for a mixed bag of horror films with this upcoming selection. Half are sequels to famous horror franchises, and a few are fresh bites. Those titles include Exorcist, Insidious: the Red Door. The Nun 2, Saw X, Meg 2: The Trench, and The Last Voyage of the Demeter.

It also includes Bird Box Barcelona, Cobweb, Talk to Me, Elevator Gameand Thanksgiving. At face value, this seems all that horror fans could want. But will it satisfy? That is the question. This leads to a more in-your-face question: given such a variation, could 2023 be a flop season for horror? Here is some direction for determining an answer.

Horror Movies 2023: The Curse of Serial Sequels and Reboots

The Exorcist (1973) by William Friedkin
Universal Pictures

Horror sequels and reboots don’t always fare well. Whether it’s because of over-inflated expectations or lack of desire, a cinematic season where sequels are the highlight shows a potentially lousy season. Why? The sequels are draining and appear uninspired—the more sequels, the greater the possibility of rehashing subjects because of scarce material. As the track record shows, franchises weaken in content when more features are tacked on as time progresses. As TV Tropes notes,

“As the number of installments in a series grows, the probability that the latest entry will be terrible increases geometrically.”

Luckily, such is not the sole determining factor of film or seasonal success. It is also crucial to examine the success of the franchise from which the sequel is derived and how the sequels have performed so far. Four of the features mentioned above come from these highly successful franchises: Insidious, Saw, The Conjuring, and The Exorcist. But while each has borne out its successes, all have a progressively long line of existing features. Unfortunately, this factor tips the odds unfavorably.

The Great Standalone Films and Sequential Doom

bird-box-jacki-weaver (1)

Often, an initial release tells a good enough story; adding anything else is unnecessary. In these cases, the greater consensus is it should be a one-and-done. And that’s okay because not everything should be dragged to oblivion. Two films in the remaining quarter fall into this category, Bird Box: Barcelona and Meg 2. Based on the present argument and considering everything, they will likely miss the mark. Why? Both initial films had sensational openings. Bird Box was so well received it broke records for Netflix. A 2019 article in The Decider records,

“According to ratings agency Nielsen and their SVOD Content Ratings solution, a whopping 26 million people watched Bird Box in its first seven days on Netflix — and that’s just in the United States.”

This is amazing, especially given the general plot showcased in many films. One needs only think of the feature film The Quiet Place to find adequate parallels.

Such success would indeed contend a phenomenon that could be hard to duplicate. But to be effective at recreating such a reception, it would be essential to understand the specific factors contributing to the immediate success and how the storyline could be effectively expanded. This means no regurgitation and certainly no jumping the shark with incredulous storylines. The odds are not favorable.

Related: Best Horror Movies of All Time, According to the American Film Institute

Building off Momentum

Evil Dead Rise
Warner Bros. Pictures

There are also a few new and exciting pieces. Unfortunately, sometimes predecessors set the tone. If the initial movies of a quarter fail horribly, it increases the likelihood that others will also. Why? People lose faith, and hope fizzles. Fans stop caring.

This all culminates in poor reception and a lack of open-mindedness. What presumably follows is a line of flops. Films in the last quarter are particularly vulnerable to this phenomenon. And sadly, it is difficult to recover from a downward spiral. So, the fate of the latter season ultimately depends on the performance of earlier releases given this calendar year.

2023 and the Unfortunate First Quarter

Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey movie 2023
Altitude Film Distribution

While there was enough fresh material in the first two quarters of 2023 to get the blood moving and the engine revving, a lot of action stalled at the gate. Horror didn’t strike as high of a note in the first quarter as most might have expected. All was not lost. Some films did well enough to salvage hope.

Related: New Horror Films Spoofing Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan Announced

The lineup included films such as Fear, Knock at the Cabin, Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, There’s Something Wrong with The Children, Infinity Pool, The Strays, M3GAN, Sick, Scream VI, Skinamarink, Children of the Corn, The Pope’s Exorcist, and Evil Dead Rise.

The list itself adequately supports the position of a see-saw earlier quarter. And thus, looking at the former quarter for the predictive success of the latter, the forecast is less than sunny. Here again, one revisits the ideology that first impressions are meaningful. Fundamentally, the first quarter did not lay a firm foundation for the upcoming quarter.

Looking at the factors, one can ascertain that the 2023 horror season is on a teeter-totter regarding a successful finish to the year. But we keep hope alive because there is a fair amount of investment from fans of long-term horror franchises to buoy expectations. But will it be enough to maintain them? Only time will tell, but the odds don’t look promising.

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