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random reviews and other thoughts

Horror Movie Rant

psychoIt’s Halloween. That mean’s candy, costumes, and movie marathons on every other channel.

Now, the holiday of Halloween I could take it or leave it, it’s not my thing. But the horror genre has never appealed to me. Why is it so popular? And if people insist on making these movies why aren’t they better by now?

I don’t enjoy being scared and I am not a fan of gore, so getting me to like a scary movie is an uphill battle to begin with. But, my personal feelings about horror aside, I believe that a good movie is a good movie no matter what genre. I can appreciate a movie without liking it and, for the most part, scary movies aren’t good.

Why is that? Is there a rule somewhere that says you can only make a scary movie if you agree to have no plot development or sensible, likable characters?

Now, I guess that sorta makes sense, you don’t want to get too attached to people that are going to get hacked into bits in the first 20 minutes. But come on, even the so-called “hero” isn’t that sympathetic. It’s dumb luck that they survive. I want a protagonist I can root for; one that I’m on the edge of my seat awaiting their fate.

I have no problem with the naked blonde going to investigate a suspicious noise she heard in the basement while she was in the shower, I’d just like to care a little bit about her and, even for a moment, be sad slashed in half. Is that too much to ask for?

Can the characters in these movies just stop for two seconds and think about what their doing? In what universe, when you see a creepy, abandoned house and think to yourself, “I know, I’m going to break in and investigate it, just cause.” That would never happen!

That doesn’t mean that all movies have to be based in reality, but when the premise of a movie is that “it could happen to you,” the characters should act like any reasonable person would in the situation. Does this make an exciting movie? That depends on the writers and whether or not they can craft a good story and doesn’t rely on cheap audience manipulation.

A scary movie should scare the audience, and most of the time they fail. And not just because 98% of them share the same plot. Writers, producers, directors, whoever you want to blame, want to shock the audience so they throw every twist and turn they can think of into a movie. Audiences expect this nowadays; they look for it. The result is either: a) a I-saw-that-coming ending, b) that’s just like (insert generic horror movie title here), or c) is it over yet? I don’t even care who the killer is anymore.

A decent horror movie’s job is to surprise the audience; leave them unsettled. You really only get one chance at that, which makes repeated viewings a bit of a letdown. It will never be quite as good as the time before. Also, what’s shocking now, won’t be in five, ten, twenty years. What was provocative in the 70’s can be seen on Saturday morning cartoons now.

Basically, I want the same things in a horror movie that I want in any other movie: well-crafted story, developed characters, to not be bored out of my mind, and the opportunity to fall in love with it all over again when I re-watch it. What really turns me off of horror is not all the blood and guts or cheesy dialog, it’s the unoriginality, cheap scares, and blatant attempt to cash on the audience emotions. (Same could be said about sappy, melodramatic chic flicks. I’m looking at you Nicholas Sparks.)

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