Should Big-Time Directors Dabble in Horror?

Many filmmakers start off in low-budget horror before "graduating" to big-budget studio productions, but what credibility do successful, big-time directors like Michael Bay and Kevin Smith have when they dabble in horror?

Bay specializes in blockbuster-sized action pictures, but Platinum Dunes, a production company he cofounded in 2001, initially specialized in remaking horror movies such as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre with Jessica Biel (better than many people remember), The Amityville Horror with Ryan Reynolds (not so good), The Hitcher with Sean Bean (routine and anonymous), Friday the 13th (a good try at a reboot), and A Nightmare on Elm Street (too much backstory, satisfying very few).

Now Bay says that he wants to finance and direct his own horror movie, claiming: "I love this genre because the movie is the star." We don't doubt his sincere love -- or else why would he have started a company to make horror movies? His last movie, Pain and Gain, was more modestly budgeted, while retaining plenty of "Michael Bay-isms,' and if he finances the movie himself, it will likely be a very low-budget movie (to reduce the risks), which will strip him to his artistic essence, for good or for bad.

As for Kevin Smith, his definition of "horror" is quite different than most horror fans. He made a big deal initially out of describing 2011's Red State as a horror movie, but as he later acknowledged, "What else do I call it? The things that happen in it, to me, are horrifying. So I'm like, 'That's a horror movie.' And that's the easiest way to sum it up before anybody saw it. But it's more of a genre mash-up." Indeed, the things that happen to three unlucky, hormone-driven young men are horrifying, but Smith didn't go to any great lengths to make Red State suspenseful or scary; it has a requisite amount of gore to earn an R rating, but it's better described as a movie with political and religious commentary that borrows horror elements to get people to watch it.

So, while Smith's upcoming Tusk has been described as a horror movie, and the premise does indeed sound horrifying -- "an old sea dog [Michael Parks]… captures a podcaster [Justin Long] and [dresses] him up as a walrus" -- Smith himself thought of it as a "sister thriller" to Red State, and only realized it was a monster movie akin to Frankenstein after he saw the costume designs in the flesh, so to speak.

 Should Kevin Smith stick to comedy and make with the funny on his podcasts? Or does he deserve another shot at making a spine-tingler horror thriller?

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