Archive for October 1st, 2020

No Explanation

October is, of course, Halloween month, a time for spooky stuff; my October movie choices are always horror.  That of course means older movies; series-obsessed Hollywood long ago lost the ability to consistently make good horror movies.  Every time some creator manages to come up with a decent fright flick, Hollywood has to turn it into a franchise, totally destroying any possibility of a scare.  The original Nightmare on Elm Street was a good, original, haunting flick; the studio soon destroyed that by turning its haunt into a wisecracking clown.  Paranormal Activity was entertaining; how many sequels are they up to now?  Even older movies are remade or sequelized into absurdity; I recently read that they’re trying to make an “origin story” for Damien, the boy Antichrist in The Omen (and several shitty sequels).  Let’s put aside for a moment the absurdity of making an “origin” prequel to a movie that is already an origin story; instead I’d like to comment on the misconception at the root of all this.  The author of that linked article states matter-of-factly, “Horror, more so than other genres, often struggles with how to offer viewers satisfactory explanations for the terror that unfolds on-screen.”  No, no, no; that’s almost the exact opposite of a correct analysis.  In true horror, there is little to no “explanation”, because the unknown is far more horrifying than any trite Hollywood “origin”.  Compare the utterly terrifying 1963 The Haunting, in which the only explanation for the goings-on is that the house was “born bad” (???) with 1999’s idiotic yawner of a remake with its ridiculous “explanation” involving “slave children”.  One of the things that makes Ringu (and its US remake The Ring) so terrifying is that it turns this stupid trope on its head, smashing the protagonist’s attempt at “explaining” and thus laying* the malevolent ghost back in her foolish face.  It’s just too bad there’s no way to lay Hollywood’s art-negating greed, which just keeps coming back as often and pointlessly as the protagonist-villain of far too many teen-oriented slasher franchises.

*Yes, “laying” is the proper gerund for destroying/stopping an undead creature. “To lay” is short for “to lay to rest”. eg, “they laid the vampire by putting a stake through its heart”. Sometimes different uses of a word from different time periods generate unintentional humor.

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