Why – in 300 Words – THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, LIGHTS OUT, and Many Other Horror Flicks Should’ve Just…Come to Broadway?! (or Off, or Off-Off, or Off-Off-Off, etc. ad infinitum)

Add last year’s The Autopsy of Jane Doe and Lights Out to the long list of excessively derivative, and thus increasingly tired horror movies that would be better suited for the stage.

Given the easy adaptability of their small casts and limited (essential) locales, the artistically stunted formalism of their concepts and execution could become dynamically more horrifying through substantive, innovative theatricality. Whereas we’ve seen these types of movies waaaaaay too many times before, a play that combines horror elements with immersive theatre tricks would be a welcome novelty on the fear-bereft stage. Haunted houses have always enticed for a reason: they rely on manipulating bodies in space, which has long been basically the most foundational building block of all theatrical expression.

Nevertheless, given the theatre intelligentsia’s tendency to condescendingly scoff at such genre fare, any self-respecting play would have to replace the cheap thrills (AKA jump scares) of many horror movies and haunted houses with a focus on terrifyingly yet intelligently manipulating the space around the audience, as has been accomplished by past horror successes on the stage. Case in point: The Woman in Black, one of the longest-running shows in West End history. Theatrical innovations can even elevate the tawdriest of material; Will Frears’ horror-infused, rotating stagecraft was one of the few redeeming aspects of last season’s Broadway adaption of Misery.

So I guess what I want to know is this: why isn’t horror on stage attempted more often?! For a genre always desperate for a shakeup, this seems like an obvious next step…

By the way, this may be the first time that a theatre snob actually calls for more screen-to-stage adaptations, but as I’ve always said: the sheer act of adapting a movie into a show has never been the problem; HOW they’ve been adapted has long been the issue. But that’s a topic for another day…

 

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