Cutting Edge Horror

What is the Cutting Edge Horror Subgenre?

Cutting edge horror defies definition, but most often, the subgenre is characterized by the fact that it is "cutting edge". Typically, what this means is that this subgenre will go against many of the preconceived notions of what horror is of the time period. Common styles, archetypes, and elements will all be thrown out of the window. In this age of remakes when publishing houses and movie studios are trying to reclaim a sense of former glory, using thrills and chills that readers have already seen, it is cutting edge horror that is both truly original and truly terrifying.

While cutting edge horror is known for a departure from the norm, this departure is purely stylistic. Many common themes and elements of the horror genre will still be present in the cutting edge subgenre, just not in the way that many readers will be used to. A prime example is the subgenre, splatterpunk, which was, at one point, considered to be cutting edge. Splatterpunk rejected the subtlety of the traditional horror of its time in favor of a no-holds-barred approach to scares, but it still explored and played on many of the common fears of the time.

Another way in which cutting edge horror pushes the envelope is the medium in which it is expressed. Cutting edge horror will often be found on websites such as creepypasta or in graphic novel form, as these are new mediums to be explored. That is not to say that cutting edge horror does not come in novel form. There are several great examples of cutting edge horror fiction.


Cutting Edge Horror Characteristics

Level of Characterization: Expect characterization in cutting edge horror to be moderate to high, though this a large subgenre and the level of characterization may vary.

Level of Plot:. The level of plot in cutting edge horror will generally be high as this is the subgenre that is known for pushing the envelope and trying things that have not been tried in the genre before.

Level of Supernatural: Supernatural will be moderate to low in cutting edge horror as supernatural horror tends to be most often thought of when the reader things of horror. That being said, there are some instances of supernatural elements in cutting edge horror, but they are almost always portrayed in a way that is different from the way they are normally thought of.

Level of Scary: The level of scary in cutting edge horror varies, but expect scares to be moderate to high.

Level of Violence: Another variable element in cutting edge horror, the level of violence will likely be moderate to high given the edgy nature of the subgenre. 

Typical Setting: Because this a subgenre that is looking for a more modern take on horror, expect settings to be modern day and generally urban in nature.

Related Horror Subgenres

Given the nature of cutting edge horror, any subgenre could be easily related to cutting edge. For example, there can be cutting edge psychological horror, cutting edge zombie horror, etc. Because this subgenre is known for pushing the envelope, other edgy subgenres such as splatterpunk and extreme horror, even weird tales could be related to cutting edge horror and considered its predecessors.

Don't Read Cutting Edge Horror If You Dislike…

Taking risks. This is the genre that throws archetypes and conventions out the window. So, if you are looking for tried and true scares, look elsewhere.

Purity by Douglas Clegg- Owen asks only one thing of the strange, Lovecraftian monster he worships, a girl that he sees only in summer. When Owen meets the girl, he is instantly in love with her, but as the two grow, their paths differ to Owen's displeasure.

Cutting Edge by Dennis Etchison- This collection of short stories was more introspective than the horror novels of its time, instead focusing on the emotional or spiritual breakdowns of its characters, which made it cutting edge at the time it was written.


The Rats by James Herbert- What happens when giant, toxic rats invade London? This graphic horror novel was also a scathing commentary on government neglect of the poor.


Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist- The friendship of Oskar, an isolated young boy, and Eli, a vampire, is fraught with brutality, due both to Eli's nature and the bullying that Oskar suffers.


Edge by Koji Suzuki- This chilling story is part science fiction, part supernatural, and all thrilling as it talks about a cataclysm that foreshadows the end of the world.


Piercing by Ryu Murakami- Businessman, Kawashima Masayuki, decides that the best way to deal with his late night desire to stab his infant with an ice pick is to do the same to a prostitute instead. What he doesn't suspect is that his intended victim has similarly twisted desires.


The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman- This popular comic book series inspired the wildly popular T.V. show with an interesting take on the zombie apocalypse.


Penpal by Dathan Auerbach- Based on stories posted on creepypasta and Reddit, Penpal tells the story of a man who traces all of the seemingly unrelated tragedies in his life to the pen pal program that he participated in as a child.

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