In the last few days, I’ve seen a few stories about horror movies that take place in McMansions (see here and here). Are McMansions inherently scarier than smaller and older houses? I’ll offer a few arguments for each.
On the side of McMansions:
1. Bigger houses allow more room for weird things to happen and more space for bad creatures to pop out of. The victims have room to run away and utilize rooms they may not have entered in weeks (because the house is just that big!).
2. Perhaps residents of McMansions and all of their faux wealth (according to critics) are more deserving of bad things happening to them or are more naive and innocent. Either way, there is something about McMansion owners that makes them better targets for these films.
3. It is really about a commentary on the foolishness of buying and living in McMansions. Perhaps the horror is the inevitable result of American individualism and consumerism.
On the side of smaller and older homes:
1. They are more claustrophobic. There is nowhere else to go.
2. They are older so there is more potential for odd backstories (think of all of those old owners) or odd places (unused cellars, crawlspaces, attics, etc.).
3. The homeowners may be of a different demographic – they don’t have the wealth to live in McMansions or new homes – so there is potential for different kinds of story lines beyond wealthy and pampered teenagers or young couples who have “made it.”
I think McMansions are an easy target for horror movies and other cultural critics. Most Americans don’t live in them but they symbolize the kind of well-off life that contrasts with darker stories. Of course, dark things can happen in all kinds of houses…