The only documentary playing at Toronto After Dark examines why festivals like this exist. While the popularity of horror films may wane with the ebb and flow of moviegoer’s genre appetites, they are constantly consumed by the hardcore fans who are bloody passionate about the screen’s ability to shock and awe. For every ‘gore whore’ who loves them, there are probably about ten gore-o-phobes who are repulsed by them. Journalist Tal Zimerman attempts to dissect the strange and often intense appeal of this visceral genre in the documentary Why Horror?, a fun and expansive look at this frequently misunderstood fandom.
The controversial, envelope-pushing world of horror filmmaking has been the subject of many documentaries. It’s an interesting, broad subject that’s easy to get lost in, which is why Zimerman along with directors Nicolas Kleiman and Rob Lindsay chose to concentrate predominantly on the ‘why?’ Despite a couple minor digressions, they mainly stay on task by approaching the topic from historical, cultural and scientific angles.
Zimerman’s search for answers takes him from Canada to Japan, the U.S., and London, giving him the opportunity to talk to filmmakers such as Eli Roth, John Carpenter, Ben Wheatley, George A. Romero, and the Soska twins. The most obvious answer the question this film poses is that it’s a safe fear, like a roller coaster ride. You are in as much peril watching a horror film as you are watching a Disney movie, but you’ll probably have a greater emotional reaction to the horror. Beyond that, the results are pretty inconclusive. Why Horror? Because fuck it, HORROR! (Noah R. Taylor)