Fans of indie horror films beware, Amazon might just start limiting what movies you have access to with your Prime membership. According to a report from Blumhouse, after speaking with a variety of indie horror filmmakers, Amazon has notified creators of “extreme” indie horror films that their works will not be offered as “Included with Prime” any longer, effective March 1st.
Blumhouse has been in contact with numerous indie horror directors who received emails stating that Amazon “will no longer allow titles containing persistent or graphic sexual or violent acts, gratuitous nudity and/or erotic themes (‘adult content’) to be offered as ‘Included with Prime’ or ‘Free with Pre-Roll Ad.'” This is in an effort to “improve the Amazon Video customer experience.” Basically, if Amazon deems a film to be “gratuitous” or containing “erotic themes,” then filmmakers can either have it removed from the service or make cuts to scenes that are flagged. In other words, censor the film.
One director, Drew Buloc, who received the fateful email was curious if this was only targeting indie films or if some of the more well-known films would be affected. “I sent them [Amazon Direct Video] an email asking if they were also going to remove ‘The Neon Demon,’” explains Buloc. “Whoever responded sort of just got confused and thought I was talking about one of my own films. Maybe they will pull everything. Not that I really want that to happen but it does feel like a bit of a double standard at this point.”
Clearly there are more wrinkles to this new policy that is yet to be worked out. With vague descriptions of what is or isn’t flagged content, it’s not certain if Amazon is targeting specific types of movies or if this will, indeed, be a blanket policy that affects all films regardless of budget and status. Otherwise, this can be seen as Amazon going after the more “extreme” indie horror creators in an attempt to “clean” their streaming service, while keeping the big name filmmakers happy and allowing any content from them.
As Blumhouse suggests, perhaps this is a chance to show Amazon that there’s a strong desire for these types of films by renting or purchasing the films instead of streaming them. Not only are you showing your support to Amazon, but also you’re giving more money to the filmmakers who are now going to have even more trouble getting their art larger audiences.