Ginger Nuts of Horror
I like to think I’m an easy-going person. In fact, I pride myself on being laid back. Very few things annoy me enough for me to kick off over them. I feel personally offended if someone tells me that they don’t like The Walking Dead. I feel perplexed if anyone turns their nose up at a delicious piece of cheese. I will furrow my brow in utter confusion when someone puts a tea bag on the side and lets it leak everywhere instead of putting it in the bin, especially if the bin is right next to them. I feel a mixture of emotions at all manner of things, but rarely irritation. But with all that said, I take horror seriously and there are just some things that boil my blood enough to make me want to rip someone’s face off.
5. FREQUENT CONTINUITY ERRORS…..
For the love of Romero, why does this happen? Now I’m not totally unforgiving; I think we’ll all excuse the odd continuity error here and there, especially if it’s the kind of thing you’d miss on the first watch and only notice later. However, I think most of us would agree that when there are several glaring c*ck-ups like that in one film, particularly when they’re all spaced quite close together, it takes away from the suspense and atmosphere and ruins the impact the movie is going for. For example, in The Exorcist, there’s a lot of to-and-froing between the shots where Regan spews that lovely green soup. There’s vomit on her nightgown, then when her head spins around, it’s clean. There’s vomit on her mouth in one shot and then there isn’t in the next. During that same scene, cracks appear in the ceiling and then the next second they’re gone... and then, oh look they’re back! And there are inexplicably more of them! Come on guys…..
4. WHEN WE’RE TREATED LIKE IDIOTS….
Audiences, typically, are smart enough to understand what’s happening. Actually, we like the chase; much like pursuing that hot guy/chick who seems sort of interested and yet we know we could be barking up the wrong tree, and in the end all that matters is knowing if our instinct was right all along. We don’t want or need everything surrounding a plot and all the clever little loops and distractions pointed out and spoon-fed to us. In fact, there has been research into the very notion that audiences prefer to feel smart. We liked to be teased with seemingly trivial details, we like our brains tickled just a little – it makes realising we were right at the end even more satisfying. And if we were wrong, we can sit back, take a deep breath and think ‘holy shit, I didn’t see that coming’. It’s frankly insulting when a writer feels the need to have a character explain EVERY MINUTE DETAIL OF THEIR FANTASTIC AND COMPLICATED PLOT. You know, just in case, when all has been revealed... we still didn’t get it. Because we’re morons. All a writer succeeds in doing with this is pointing out their own insecurity that the action in their script wasn’t fulfilling or explanatory enough, hence the blow-by-blow narration in the last five minutes of the movie.
3. BAD ACTING….
The Babadook (2014). I know Noah Wiseman who played Samuel is a kid but…. Haley Joel Osment. Every single one of The Losers Club in It. Drew Barrymore in her young years. Corey Feldman. Corey Haim. Wil Wheaton. Where did all the awesome child actors go? S’all I’m sayin’.
2. “HEY WRITER PALS, WE GOT AWAY WITH THIS SO FAR, LET’S GO MENTAL/THROW IN AN INAPPROPRIATE JUMP-SCARE AT THE END!”
So you know when you’re enjoying a perfectly good movie? The acting is decent, the plot is plodding along nicely, and you’ve enjoyed having the shit scared out of you a few times? You’re just cosying into that last leg of the film and then… oh, they f***ing ruined it. Spoiler alert. Episode 50 has to be my first example, because I’ve just reviewed it. I was enjoying this, and then for some reason the plot got overly complicated, and they felt the need to throw in a bizarre ring of fire leading to hell and a wee little devil man right at the end. I mean... this was a “found footage” movie for crying out loud, was there really any need to ram the story down our throats like that? And what about Insidious? Ordinarily I don’t poop because I’m a girl and we never do anything with our butts, apart from put them in cute little pants and wiggle them about for the pleasure of our cavemen, but I was shitting myself during this movie. And then Darth Maul appeared. Game over man, game over. Most disappointing of all to me was the last two seconds of Sinister. This movie had spent its duration convincing me that there was hope for modern horror after all. That there were still writers, directors and actors out there capable of putting the fear of the unholy in me. And then that stupid dickheaded jump scare happened right at the end. “Whyyyyyy????” I cried, feeling that stab of disappointment tear through me. “It didn’t need it… IT DIIIIDDDDNNN’TTTT NEEED IIIITTTTTT!!!”
1. OVERUSE OF CGI/POOR SPECIAL EFFECTS….
How many times have you been watching a pretty good horror movie and are sitting there nice and scared, when all of a sudden your eyes are invaded with, let’s say, a comical puppet or some atrociously cheap and poorly rendered CGI? No matter how good the movie was, or how scary the monster seemed up until this point, poor effects have the power to destroy a viewer’s enjoyment more than any of what’s listed above. And the most frustrating thing about this is that there is simply no excuse.
The age of the movie can’t be blamed; Ridley Scott’s Alien can boast some of the most terrifying monsters ever created and it was released in 1979. It was so well done that it’s stood the test of time for nearly 40 years. Spielberg’s Jurassic Park was released in 1993 and has barely aged even though the CGI in that is over 2 decades old. Movies like these prove that animatronics, CGI, and wonderfully crafted puppets and talented puppeteers not only exist, but enhance tension and believability. So what’s the excuse for the movies that totally slash their own horror to pieces (or pixels, in many cases) by forcing us to endure naff creatures and ghouls, when they could have been left out altogether?
Take The House on Haunted Hill (Dir. William Malone, 1999) for example. This movie was never going to make the top ten for scariest movies, that’s a given, but it was creepy. Until the last 20 minutes when they introduce some weird smoke ghost monster with Famke Janssen’s head. William Castle’s 1959 original stands up better than this one does and isn’t half as silly to look at. I mean, look;
That’s pretty creepy, right? And now look below….
What even… I just don’t…. like… come onnnnnnnnnn
And what about Thirteen Ghosts? Take a look at this shot from the original William Castle version released in 1960…
Not amazing, but spooky, right? Not too overdone…
Now look at this picture from Steve Beck’s 2001 remake…
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Angry Princess. Who is responsible for this, I ask you? I mean, if you’re going to sculpt giant, distracting boobs, at least even them up. If you want her to have a ghostly complexion, you know, subtlety… why is her hair so rigid? Why does she look like she’s been paper mache'd? Compare this makeup to the effects from The Exorcist, released in 1973…
HOLY F****ING SHIT DUDE. I mean… see… scary. Time is no factor, there is almost 30 years difference between these two movies and you can see which is superior effects-wise and which falls short.
And before anyone says it, let’s not blame budget. George A. Romero made Night of the Living Dead (1968) with what was essentially the change in his back pocket, and succeeded in creating some pretty effective and scary shit. Quite simply, if you don’t have the budget for a huge fog monster, or the make-up expertise for a slashed up naked chick, here’s a thought – don’t write it. Write around it, re-write it. Effects might cost a fortune but putting pen to paper and using good old-fashioned imagination doesn’t. Why do you think “found footage” films are so effective? Hell, The Blair Witch Project (1999) was a success despite not showing us anything... nay, BECAUSE of not showing us anything.
Movie dudes, if you don’t have the resources, don’t sweat it; we’ll fill in the blanks ourselves. Just don’t ruin our lives (or at the least, approximately 90 minutes of fun-filled terror) by ripping us out of the horror and plonking us in the unintentionally absurd.
KAYLEIGH MARIE EDWARDS