I’m someone who still loves Airbnb. I recently embarked on my first vacation in three years – a two-week European tour – and have booked Airbnbs for three out of four destinations. Unlike many people, who have no shortage of horror stories about their less than charming stays in dodgy apartments with dodgy hosts, I’ve had mostly positive experiences in my years of using Airbnb. . And yet, I understand the apprehension that accompanies service. I’ll never forget that one of my first Airbnb bookings was an apartment in Florence, Italy, where my sister and I felt constantly watched all night. As if there was someone or, more disturbingly, sSomething watching us, lurking in the shadows, making us uncomfortable. Uninvited.
The once-revolutionary company is no longer at the peak of its powers, but Airbnb still has a strong presence in the modern vacation landscape. It might not be the ideal choice for travelers who want a real native experience in a given location, but it’s still a solid option for people on a budget or those who want a more down-to-earth vacation. ashore. However, Airbnb has recently seen a surge in a place few expected to see: the horror genre.
Horror is on the rise in modern cinema. Perhaps now more than ever, the venerable genre is pushing its boundaries, exploring new themes that push it to evolve beyond its initial conception. Horror is an ever-evolving genre driven by human curiosity. It’s long been a way for directors and screenwriters to investigate the depths of the human psyche, forcing us to confront demons we’d rather ignore for fear of what we might uncover. It makes sense that it’s an early adapter of social trends that other genres would resist exploring, let alone embrace. Horror movies of the past decade have examined everything from the accelerating rise of technology to our increased reliance on it. More interestingly, horror has taken on the task of commenting on how we relate to each other and experience different things in an increasingly hectic world. So the rise of the Airbnb horror movie happened.
Their place, their rules
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At first glance, it’s easy to see the appeal of an Airbnb horror movie. You live in a stranger’s house, purposely putting yourself in someone else’s environment. Hotels were already a prime source of horror sets – movies like the brilliant and 1408 (both were adaptations of stories by Stephen King, who was onto something) proved just how fitting the hotel business was to the horror genre. However, Airbnb is upping the ante and increasing the tension. Unlike a hotel, where you are among other visitors, creating a false sense of belonging, Airbnb takes you away from them and projects you into the local environment. When you stay at an Airbnb, you’re the ultimate fish out of water.
Looking back, it’s surprising that it took the horror genre so long to embrace Airbnb, given that the company rose to prominence in the early 2010s. Staying at an Airbnb could make you the star of your choice Rosemary’s baby. For some, this may seem like a challenge; for others, it would seem like the ultimate nightmare. However, like the best horror movies, it’s a compelling and ultimately compelling premise.
Entering the property of a foreigner means you are on their territory. This can include suspicious rules, elaborate and proprietary codes, no-go areas, and questionable security measures. Hotels have cameras, but there are limits to where they can be, while an Airbnb may have other rules, whether it’s the owner’s or even previous guests’. The movie 2020 Location plays with this premise, using overheard security cameras to create conflict between guests and others. Taking advantage of our common perception of Airbnb, Location subverts public expectations of who the real enemy is.
The Airbnb Horror asks a question the genre has long posed to its viewers: Why would you willingly put yourself in a position of potential danger? There are real-life security measures that make these accommodations a viable option for tourists, but those boundaries disappear in the horror genre, setting the stage for a nightmare where the protagonist causes their own demise. By exaggerating the vagaries of a rental, the Airbnb horror genre asks a crucial question: how many red flags are we willing to accept in someone else’s home? The answer is, surprisingly, a lot.
The Host from Hell
A great host is crucial to the success of an Airbnb. You may not want to rent accommodation with few or negative reviews; seeing the “Superhost” card next to a potential host increases the level of trust. Still, this mysterious character can be the ultimate enemy, at least in horror movies. Who else has more power than the host? They control everything from initial access to security codes; they set the rules and place the boundaries or lack thereof. In terms of horror, the host might as well be the boogeyman.
Take 2019 A perfect host, about a group of friends who rent a secluded cabin and mingle with the owner of the place, a bodybuilder with suspicious and potentially nefarious intentions. The movie 2021 Superhost follows two YouTubers who book a rental for an eager woman willing to do anything for a four-star review. Both films exploit the trope of the host as an untrustworthy figure. By enhancing their negative qualities, they create a unique antagonist to the Airbnb horror subgenre.
The host can be anything from an obsessive psychopath, à la Norman Bates, to a Jigsaw-type game master. The goal is for them to flip the script and deliver the terrors. Unlike an ordinary killer terrorizing unsuspecting teenagers, the host controls the situation by literally owning the setting. Like a twisted version of Alone at home‘s Kevin McCallister, the evil host is the ultimate hunter, stalking vulnerable prey. The premise writes itself, and it wouldn’t be surprising if more horror movies with evil hosts at their center were released in the near future. The evil host opens the door to countless opportunities, and the horror genre is nothing if not experimental.
The secrets inside
Perhaps the scariest part of an Airbnb is the lack of familiarity with the environment. A hotel room is just a bedroom. It may have a kitchenette or living space, but it’s still a bit confined, limiting options for exploration. On the other hand, an Airbnb rental has its own secrets, especially when it comes to large properties like apartments or chalets.
Barbaric, one of the best horror movies of 2022, understands this fear and uses it in its favor. It not only features one of modern horror’s most genuinely disturbing villains, but also uses his unique setting and characteristics to the fullest. Barbaric knows we fear what we don’t know, and what’s scarier than what lies beneath? Likewise, the 2020s You should have left uses its setting – an isolated rental house – to tell an old-fashioned story about hell on earth. Curses in homes are a favorite narrative from horror movies, but the Airbnb home has an added layer of discomfort; it’s not your house, and it never will be your house. Nothing forces you to stay within these walls, except yourself. In a way, you could be the true antagonist of Airbnb horror.
Homes have stories and secrets hidden under every rug and behind every wall. But who wants to know them all? If the horror genre has taught us anything, it’s that nothing good comes of staring into the dark room from which remarkable sound is heard. When it comes to Airbnbs, the less we know, the better. The words “don’t get in there” never rang truer.
A new kind of nightmare
While Airbnb is out of fashion, we have to ask ourselves: is the Airbnb horror movie dying before it even starts living properly? East Barbaric the last hurray for a subgenre that never really took off? Unlikely. Horror has a way of keeping places relevant by claiming them as their own; the motels have largely fallen into disuse, but they remain a popular setting for road movies and hitchhiker nightmares. Sororities aren’t half as relevant as they were in the latter part of the 20th century, yet if a slasher movie set in a sorority came out tomorrow, we’d have no problem believing it.
Moreover, even if Airbnb disappears in the next decade, it will remain a landmark of a particular time and place, encapsulating the experimental and early adoption vibe of the 2010s. Hollywood likes to look to the past for its inspire, especially when it comes to horror. The nightmarish Airbnbs of the 2010s could replace the rural farmhouses of the 70s as the new favorite haunt of horror.
Still, chances are the Airbnb horror movie is here to stay. It is unique and compelling, allowing a wide range of stories to be told within its confines. The rentals, especially the isolated ones, carry considerable baggage from past owners and guests, creating a chaotic and life-threatening collage of experiences that make them ideal locations for a terror film. The horror genre lives and dies with our fear of the unknown, the dangers of uncharted territory; what could be more mysterious than a stranger’s house? There’s a morbid allure to stepping into someone else’s domain, a guilty sense of curiosity that drives us to learn more about our surroundings. But curiosity killed the cat, and the horror genre proves it.
If anything can kill the Airbnb film, it’s the very point of filmmaking. But it’s 2022, and hotel horror stories remain as popular as they were when Hitchcock made psychology; if these tales have survived to this day, so has Airbnb’s horror. Here, then, is the rising subgenre of horror that no one saw coming. May Airbnbs reign long and thrive alongside haunted mansions, old hotels, ghost towns, and dilapidated mansions as places of our community nightmares.