In high school, we loved the amusement park-like adrenalin rush. But over the years, and before the meta-horror movies like Scream and Scary Movie, I began to see that horror movies were their own forms. Like westerns particularly, these genres have rules and structure. The filmmakers who break the rules well usually turn out to be those who know and understand the rules. Just like writing in poetry forms.
For the last two decades I've been discouraged by masochistic, misogynistic horror movies like Saw and misfires like Paranormal Activity and Insidious and the bleak Japanese-inspired films like The Ring. Two years ago I wrote an Open Letter to the Horror Movie industry on I Found Some Blog by Cher Scholar. I missed the architecture of a good ole ghost story, which is not an easy story to pull off. It takes an understanding of tone and timing. Horror movies are filled with tried and true tricks. It takes an artist to make some old gotchas work.
Which is why I love the new movie The Conjuring. Some above C-list actors, an artful set and costuming, deft direction and some newly formulated scares make this a strong example of its form.