4 Untapped Settings For Horror Movies
As popular as horror movies are, there isn’t a lot of diversity between them when it comes to setting. While there are of course plenty of outliers here and there, many if not most horror movies take place in spooky houses, small towns, dark forests, and places like these. It helps the movies that these settings have become familiar to fans of the genre, because the surroundings of the characters are able to help build a sense of terror and suspense all on their own. Even so however, a little more variety might be good for the genre in the long run.
Just for fun then, this is one writer’s look at four settings that are largely untapped, and which might make for great horror flicks.
1. Remote Hikes
For some reason horror writers like to explore the idea of being lost in nature, but rarely seem to put characters very far from civilization. Thus, there’s often a sort of “why don’t they just run back toward town?” query that’s fair for the audience to ask, say when characters are at a spooky camp or wandering in the woods. In a way, it could be scarier to be far away from civilization, off on a remote hike – or even a famous one! Consider this: Machu Picchu is arguably the most famous hiking destination on the planet, and one thing they don’t even tell you about visiting is that you’re liable to hear ghost stories. There are all kinds of interesting legends and spooky tales that surround destinations like these, and if they don’t already exist they’re easy enough to dream up.
2. The Beach
Jaws and its imitators aside, it sort of seems like nothing bad ever happens on a beach in movies – unless we want to count high school breakups. But this too seems to be an untapped resource for horror creation. I’m thinking about this in two ways. One is that when something terrible happens in such a sunny, happy, safe-seeming location, the shock can be heightened. The other is that there’s a whole world of pirate lore to be explored in the form of genuinely creepy ghost tales (as opposed to the sillier ghost tales we see in films like Pirates Of The Caribbean).
Casinos can seem at first glance to be going out of fashion. All the games are on the internet, and no one really cares about dressing up nice and strutting through Vegas like Frank Sinatra anymore. But really, they’re not going anywhere. Recently we’ve seen stories about the American-based Hard Rock International expanding to Australia’s Gold Coast, and we’ve seen Atlantic City undergoing a sort of slow-motion revival. Casinos are still in business, which means they’re still relevant as film settings. Horror hasn’t been tried in this sort of setting in a significant way, but all the tension and weirdness is there for a nice shock flick. Just think: money on the line makes people act crazy, a murderous clown or circus performer would blend in perfectly, and it’s an ideal setting for extras to have no idea what’s going on right in front of them even as something crazy happens.
4. Ancient Histories
For inspiration in rounding out this article I read through an article on underutilized settings in spec fic, and the idea of “Bronze Age Empires” really stood out. Pointing out that most historical fiction more or less ignores the time before the Classical Age, it opens up the idea that we really haven’t explored ancient history from a horror perspective. Sure, we think about Ancient Egyptian curses for films like The Mummy or X-Men: Apocalypse, but those are action movies. The truth of the matter is that these ancient societies had innumerable mythologies and legends about evil creatures, gods and titans, etc. that could all serve as the foundation for an entirely different kind of horror movie. This is just one idea, but could you imagine a serious spook flick revolving around the Greek legend of the minotaur?