I cannot stand modern horror. My experience of it is a genre without much or any depth. It seems to be based on sinking to the vilest and lowest level possible. It over relys on jump scares and ignores suspense.
I’ve no problem with violence in a story or even cruel acts. But they shouldn’t (in my opinion) be the story. The test should be that the story should be able to survive and still be a story without the violence or cruelty. They can add to a story or complement a story, adding depth of feeling or emotion to it, but the story should be complete in itself without it.
For example 1984 is a love story set in a dystopian society. It shows the desire for love and freedom that drive people and how those strong emotions can be devastated. The elements of torture and cruelty from the party add massively to the atmosphere and suspense created in the story but without them the story would still be there and complete. If the book focused on the torture, the blood and cruelty it would just be nasty and horrid.
My experience of modern horror isn’t that wide because what I’ve seen of it, it’s a race to the bottom so I dont watch it. Maybe it’s bigger and more diverse than I think but a quick scan of dvd boxes around halloween tells me I’m at least partially right.
I discussed this with a friend recently, and it's pertinent here: how do you even do a jump scare in a book?
Also: am I right in reading your opinion is constrained to tv/film modern horror, and not from books you might find under the label "horror" in a bookshop?