Thursday, September 02, 2010

Horror Tropes That Could Probably Use a Rest

1) In "found footage" horror movies, where the camera is actually being held by a character in the movie, I think you'd probably surprise more people by now if you didn't have the camera-person die horribly at the end, usually right as they discover something shocking. (e.g. "Cloverfield", "The Blair Witch Project", "Quarantine", "The Zombie Diaries" (three times in that film), and others.)

2) It does not make your zombie movie a new and different zombie movie if your cast of characters is trapped in a different location than a farmhouse. Ripping off "Night of the Living Dead" is ripping off "Night of the Living Dead", no matter where they're trapped. (Putting fast zombies in was innovative...twenty-five years ago.)

3) Cell phones exist. Please get used to it, or else set your movie in an era where they didn't. Constant refrains of, "Oh, no! My cell phone doesn't work!" get old, fast.

4) There is a small, but significant difference between "the serial killer is very intelligent and has a good knowledge of his target's behavior" and "the serial killer has a precise understanding of every conceivable event that will unfold over the course of the movie, right down to minor and inconsequential acts of chance such as the way water flows down a drain." (See the first "Saw" movie, which would literally have been five minutes long if the killer's taunting gambit had played out even slightly differently.)

5) M. Night Shyamalan. Really, who does this man have pictures of?

12 comments:

Eric TF Bat said...

M. Night Shyamalan is the Rob Liefeld of movies: Rob Liefeld can't draw, M. Night Shyamalan can't write. And yet they both get gigs. Maybe people just like train wrecks.

ChrisPV said...

The first Saw really collapses under its own weight. I remember my first thought after slogging through that was "Really? Guy laying on the floor face down for at least the 90 minute run time, and neither of our leads realized he was breathing? Really?"

My second thought was "And if there's some kind of magical suspended animation Romeo and Juliet drug, that's A) incredibly stupid B) terribly contrived and C) something that SHOULD BE ESTABLISHED AS A THING IN YOUR MOVIE."

I can go on and on about that film. Don't even get me started on a killer mastermind just trusting one of his victims to torture his other victims...

John Seavey said...

Not just "guy", but "guy with terminal cancer that has already metastasized". So he's lying there totally motionless on the floor through intense pain, coughing fits, muscle spasms, and all the other fun things that happen to you when you're in the advanced stages of cancer.

And don't forget, one of the two people who didn't notice he was alive while sitting less than three feet away from him was a professional physician. Even setting aside the fact that he was that man's attending physician (which we're supposed to do, because the point of the film is that he's just going through the motions of being a doctor) how the hairy hell does he not notice that the giant head wound is fake!?!?!? (repeat sequence of "?!" to infinity.)

ChrisPV said...

Still, at least the first one, stupid as it is, maintains a certain degree of restraint. Saw II and ongoing are so painful it's not even funny to watch anymore.

Although I'd probably give it all a pass as being big, dumb, mindless horror schlock if there weren't so many folks going on and on and bloody on about how Jigsaw's "teaching them a lesson." Which is only true if that lesson is "If life hands you a terminal illness, be a gigantic twat and make as many people as possible suffer because you feel like the universe is unfair."

dan_Imd_man said...

And most modern zombie flicks (Post-Romero) only work because they apparently take place in a universe where zombie flicks don't exist. Otherwise how do you explain the fact that the characters have no idea what the hell happened to the zombiefied victims, let alone what to do to stop them?

chiasaur11 said...

Why Shawn of the Dead and Zombieland are so good.

People who have a vague idea what they're doing are more fun to watch.

Jim S said...

The cell phone thing is tough to get around. Let's face it, from the beginning of drama with the Greeks to until about 5 or 10 years ago, all you had to do was get people out of shouting distance of potential rescuers. Pay phones used to be very common, but out in the woods or at old man Jones' abadoned mansion, not so much. Now, with cells and a decent plan, you can call your brother in the Army who's serving in the hills of Afghanistan.

That's just a drama killer. I'm not saying your wrong, but you have to agree, it's a tough problem to get around.

John Seavey said...

It's not that tough; just set your movie in 1974, or some other period that is pre-cell phones. Or use a cast of characters that are economically disenfranchised enough to not have one. Or have them call the cops, and the cops come out and get murdered too. Just don't have the one work-around they always use, which is, "Gee, we seem to have wandered into a black hole in my cellular coverage. How odd."

Murc said...

Huh. I'd always bought into the whole 'coriolis force' thing for water flowing down a drain. It turns out literally ten seconds with google shows that that is a myth. Thanks, John. I learned a thing today!

j$ said...

How about falling down on perfectly level ground after running 10-15 feet?

I can't remember if it was your blog or another which mentioned that modern cars are electronically controlled and almost never fail to start, statistically speaking, so they could stop doing that in movies any time now.

M. Night Shyamalan movies would be awesome if he'd get some decent closers in his pitching roster.

D said...

Also, how about 'ah, the killer is dead, we can let our guards down now!" I mean, that stuff was getting old back in the 80's.

Anonymous said...

"Gee, we seem to have wandered into a black hole in my cellular coverage. How odd."

Well, remember, that sort of thing actually happened fairly frequently a mere ten years ago.

So if the movie that uses that dodge was made in the 1990s or the very early 2000s, it was a common enough real life experience to be believable to its audience at the time.