Why Ridley Scott Thinks Prestige Horror ‘Works Better’ on TV

“It’s really evolving and — if you’re not careful — it will definitely replace feature films,” “Alien” director and “The Terror” executive producer tells TheWrap

Last Updated: June 10, 2018 @ 11:17 AM

The much-buzzed about “Hereditary” comes out today — and based on all the reviews — it appears if you catch the horror flick at your local movie theater it will traumatize you (in an elevated way) for quite some time. Or maybe just until you get home and turn on your TV.

With the resurgence of prestigious films that give you the chills (see Ari Aster’s disturbing family tale above, “Get Out,” “It,” “A Quiet Place” and the upcoming “Suspiria” remake),  TheWrap thought we’d check in with Ridley Scott — whose 1979 film “Alien” is one of the most famed horror movies of all time — about where the classier side of the genre is headed these days. And this was while discussing one of his most recent projects: a TV show he told us was “better” than a spooky flick in a lot of ways.

“I think so, because horror, in a funny kind of way, is famous for a captive audience,” Scott said when TheWrap asked if he thought TV was taking over the prestige horror genre (despite the release of the titles we already mentioned) in an interview last month ahead of the Season 1 finale of his frightening AMC series, “The Terror.”

“[And with TV] you are at home. And by being at home you are kind of uneasy,” Scott continued. “‘Cause if you are by yourself, you’re looking over your shoulder in the room. I think, yeah, it kind of makes it more — if horror can be called ‘fun’ and being scared to death can be called ‘fun,’ then yeah, I think it works better at home rather than sitting in a room full of lots of people. Sitting by yourself, the fear can be really scary if the show is very effective. I still like to put it under the heading of ‘fun.’ Hopefully, it can be ‘fun.'”

“‘The Walking Dead’ set that up fine, didn’t they?” Scott said of the beginnings of elevated scary stories making their way onto the small screen. “It’s all good, because I think what’s happening with the real evolution and expansion of television is coming some really great writing and some really great ideas. I mean, television, in a funny kind of way, is rather in its Golden Age, isn’t it? It’s really evolving and — if you’re not careful — it will definitely replace feature films, which would be a pity, because it’s very great to watch something on a very big screen.”

“But a lot of this material, honestly, works on the smaller screen,” Scott added. “And today, your technology of what we call a smaller screen today can be at least 3 or 4 feet with a great sound and great picture quality. So it’s becoming more and more difficult to make feature films compete with the evolving TV now. Very good quality. And there is a lot of good writers working in TV now.”

Two such writers Scott knows are Soo Hugh and David Kajganich, the creators and showrunners behind “The Terror.” And while they both have dabbled in film too (with Kajganich being the screenwriter behind the next iteration of “Suspiria”) this particular project — a fictionalized account of a British expedition that becomes stuck in the ice and is haunted by a creature — was meant for TV. Always. Mainly because the Jared Harris-led drama had characters whose stories just wouldn’t fit into the confined timing of a feature film.

“The question really is, is the horror being driven by character?” Kajganich said. “And if it is, then television is a fantastic opportunity for, you know, these longer form stories. I think that’s something a lot of people haven’t thought about. That a genre like horror can be driven by character and can benefit from six hours, eight hours, 10 hours, multiple seasons. And that’s certainly something we loved about this experience.”

“We knew we were in the horror genre, but we knew we wanted to drive it with character,” Kajganich continued. “And the chance to do that over 10 hours is just not something you would ever have in cinema. You would never have a character-based horror franchise that lasted five films. It would just be sort of unthinkable. But we got to do it on TV. So it could be a boon for character-based horror in the most profound way.”

Kajganich added that horror on television can now “rival the visceral experience of horror in a movie theater” because you don’t have to “neuter” the visual elements of the story in the same way you used to.

Of course irony sets in here when Kajganich tells you he sort of wishes “some enterprising movie theater would do a ‘Terror’ weekend” so fans could watch it all together.

So horror on TV, but make it movies?