Horror should tell a story or it’s just a bunch of jump scares. Sometimes that’s fine; movies like Paranormal Activity have their place in the genre. However, the horror that lasts, the pieces that people talk about for decades after they’ve been written are the movies and stories that talk about us.
One of the many reasons that the Twilight Zone is still as popular as it is today is the fact that almost each and every episode talks about the nature of humanity and society. Ranging from racism and xenophobia to the nature of war and technology, the writing hits home. The effectiveness of the show is that for the most part, the morals and themes are subtle enough that it feels like entertainment. Morality tales lose their effect when it’s obvious that they’re morality tales.
It’s the writing that makes this show a classic. Written by genre giants, each story pulls at what terrifies us. A great many of the episodes talk about metafears-those things that scare us a group. What does happen when we’re confronted with the Other? What does happen when we think that this is the end? What is the nature of evil, and how does the group mentality work? Each episode is a microcosm of society-which is part of why the show works. We know that deep down inside we’re not necessarily nice creatures, even with all the things that redeem us, and being shown our own weaknesses scares us.