Everybody’s heard of Freddy Krueger, everyone’s heard of Leatherface but where is the iconic monstrous figure for the 2000s.
The 1970s bought us Michael Myers and Damien Thorn, the 80s brought us Jason Voorhees and Chucky, the 90s bought us Hannibal Lecter and Ghostface. I have spent a while thinking about who the horror icon could be. A few potential thoughts came to mind; The Creeper from Jeepers Creepers, Captain Spaulding from House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, Samara Morgan from The Ring?
Although Scream moved into the 2000s with Scream 3 and Scream 4, I don’t think that these can really be counted because it was originally made in 1996. The same principle also stands for remakes. Although iconic horror figures have been created through remakes such as Freddy Krueger in A Nightmare On Elm Street or The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I don’t think that these can really be counted as horror icons because they did not originate from the 2000s.
Most of the horror icons that people are aware of occur due to a franchise; Halloween, Hellraiser etc. Therefore, does a horror icon have to be part of a franchise? After much deliberation, perhaps, the horror icon of the 2000s would be Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) from the Saw franchise. I am struggling to think of another horror icon in the 2000s that has made such an impact on both audiences and critics alike. However, this is a very different type of “monster” to Jason Voorhees or Predator, this “monster” is human.
The Saw franchise makes a deliberate effort to demonstrate the humanity of Jigsaw as the audience learns about his past and his prior relationships. Another interesting concept of Jigsaw in comparison to previous horror icons is rather than the indestructible nature of Michael Myers, Jigsaw can be, and is, killed but his intellect and manipulative abilities allows his horrific work to be continued by others. Like other horror icons of the past Jigsaw uses masks but he does not wear them, he uses the masks and toys to enhance the terror of the unknown such as with Billy the puppet or the pig mask. Tobin Bell makes the character realistically creepy combining this with his intellect, which puts him unnervingly ahead of the game.
In the 2000s, there appears to be less of an emphasis on a monster or a masked figure but instead on either the human or the paranormal with franchises like Paranormal Activity and Hostel being huge successes. I think the villains of horror films have changed drastically in the last decade, there is a lesser focus on a central figure and a stronger focus on the movie as a whole. I think that this is a shame, as much as the entirety of a film is important to a film’s success, it is the monsters or villains that have the ability to make a horror film or franchise even more memorable.