Kudos to Shudder for putting together great panels this year, and their "Scary Good TV: A Conversation with Horror's Top Showrunners" panel for Comic-Con@Home was the definition of great just from the cast alone. Moderator Tananarive Due and showrunners Nick Antosca (Channel Zero), Meredith Averill (Locke & Key), Don Mancini (Chucky), Greg Nicotero (Creepshow) and Jami O'Brien (NOS4A2) "offer their unique insights on why horror TV is having a moment and what it takes to create the kind of terrifying shows that keep viewers coming back episode after episode." Let's dive in then!
They go into what horror has evolved into by way of touching what horror is rooted in – the everyday. It creates a space to deal with the fear and terror of normal occurrences, like your teenage daughter changing? The Exorcist. A father not being as loving as he should? The Shining. "In horror, we can explore the sense of pervasive dread all around us, which is more true right now more than ever." blue shirt beard guy
But where horror took a turn was in the primary fan base and demographic. Prior to the horror boom of the 70s and 80s, "A lot of kids that were playing 'House of the Dead' or 'Resident Evil'… they bridged that gap, where traditionally zombie stuff was guys who grew up on George Romero stuff, now all of a sudden it was open to a newer audience. I do think that horror video games did do a lot for opening up horror television."
This has led to exploring a lot of stories with children as nearly all the shows represented on the panel deal with children in some capacity. Mancini has insight on that. "Part of what's so interesting about it is just that juxtaposition of the relative or perceived innocence of childhood set against whatever the evil is you're depicting in your specific story." It's really a battle of good vs evil and children personify that, just as a visual and narrative shorthand.
Nicotero chimed in and mentioned that when writers pitched stories for Creepshow, he was surprised at how many of them dealt with kids in their high school years or younger. Production-wise, he said it was tricky to shoot horror with kids but when developing season 2, all the stories have kids and it's that playing with innocence and the "wide-eyed wonder of believability" quality that kids represent that makes it so appealing to the genre. There's so much more in this panel and everyone has such good thoughts on the genre and insights to their specific shows. They discuss the challenges of bringing horror to television and what the challenges of those scares are, the depth of story possible with television, and how they tackle issues through the unique prism of horror.