Does Doing A Horror Movie Mean You’re Over?

Many of Hollywood’s heavyweights got their start in horror flicks: Jamie Lee Curtis (“Halloween”), Johnny Depp (“A Nightmare on Elm Street”), Jennifer Aniston (“Leprechaun”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“Critters 3″). But while watching the really mediocre-looking trailer for Renee Zellweger’s new movie “Case 39,” it was hard not to think, My, how far you’ve fallen. It made me start to wonder if doing a horror movie after you’ve already established yourself is career suicide. Is it the ultimate signal of your decline into obscurity? Let’s review the facts …

  • Sarah Michelle Gellar is all too familiar with the horror flick curse. Of course she got her start in the genre, but I think those “Grudge” movies are to blame for the fact that she’s now stuck doing voice-overs for kids’ movies that no one knew existed. Maybe it’s the fact that Gellar will forever be associated with the Japanese zombie-like tormentors from the movie, or maybe she just didn’t have another “Scooby Doo” flick (for the record, also a career-killer) in her, but it looks like she’s pushing for an early retirement.
  • I think most of us can agree that Lindsay Lohan was delightful in “Mean Girls” and, though there are extenuating circumstances for the demise of her career, let’s just say for argument’s sake that “I Know Who Killed Me” was to blame. Being a method actress (probably), Lindsay took her role way too seriously and it put her in a dark place. She also had to learn how to pole dance, which is like handing a box cutter to a baby. Knowing how to strip is not good for “reformed” Lindsay’s career, but it will be terribly helpful if it keeps going the way it is. Someone should have taken that script and “accidentally” shred it.
  • And it’s not just the women. What about Adrien Brody’s career? He won a frickin’ Oscar for “The Pianist” and now he’s in campy thrillers like “Splice” and “Predators.” They might be slightly above the level of some of these horror flicks, but he’s wavering dangerously close to the horror movie curse.
  • And what about Rider Strong? That kid had the potential to be a leading man, but instead his career descended into the abyss with “Cabin Fever,” “Cabin Fever 2: Spring Fever,” and “Darkening Sky,” which presumably went straight to video. OK, I might be exaggerating about Strong’s potential, but we did have high hopes for the “Boy Meets World” heartthrob!
  • Some of the horror career declines are more subtle. Have you seen Liv Tyler outside of a Nintendo DS commercial recently? No, because she did that crappy horror movie “The Strangers.” And next year, we can look forward to “The Strangers 2.”
  • I’m not sure if Halle Berry has gotten past “Gothika” in her own mind, but her career certainly slowed down.

It’s perhaps not fair to blame these faltering careers on the horror genre, especially since some of them were simply really bad movies, but there is enough evidence to support the theory. It could be a matter of the chicken before the egg and actors turn to horror movies when they’re just desperate for a role. But I’m not sure why they bother when it’s just going to bring them more nightmares.