When the grocery store parking lot starts to get scummy with the guts of smashed pumpkins, you know that it's the season for scares. So our Woot Writers will be spending the week running down their top Scary Movies so you can check out, judge, and berate them as horribly inadequate. Today, Sean presents a list of his favorite horror movies... to complain about.
(and as a word of warning, we did our best to find non-offensive YouTube videos, but these are horror movies so watch out for scary images and/or NSFW language.)
I don’t like horror movies because I scare easily. So, when compiling a list of 5 horror movies, I had two options: 1) I could do the mature thing and make a list of movies that actually ascare me, thus embracing my inner-wimpdom and admitting my own flaws; or 2) I could pretend to be “above” the horror genre by selecting five bad movies and commenting on their flaws.
So, here are my top 5 flawed horror movies (note: spoilers-a-plenty):
5. Open Water
This is a “shark movie," a genre of its own really, but the film’s intention is to strike fear into viewers, so I’ve included it here. The story focuses around a husband and wife who go on a scuba diving trip in the Caribbean and end up stranded in shark-infested waters after their boat leaves without them. The premise is great because it’s every recreational diver’s worst nightmare. In fact, I’ve only talked to a handful of people who’ve actually seen the film; the rest were too scared by the OMG-that-could-happen-to-me premise.
They’re lucky, but not because they are spared any terror. No, they're lucky because they were spared 79 minutes of boredom. The problem with Open Water is that it incorrect assumes that, if you put people in the water with sharks, the viewer is going to care about their well-being, even if they're awful and boring. That's just not the case here, and in the end, when they’re eaten by the sharks, you really feel nothing but relief.
4. The Village
M. Night’s catalogue has quite a few stinkers to choose from, but I think The Village is the most intriguing because it was the last of his movies that anyone had any hope for. Lady in the Water was dead on arrival, as was The Happening. But The Village followed Signs, which, despite flawed itself, managed to win over some viewers and critics. Then there's the fact that the film featured Adrien Brody only a year or two after his Oscar for the Pianist, so it seemed like Mr. Shyamalan might just have a hit. But no.
Having built a reputation for his twists, M. Night throws not one but two at you here. First, the creatures in the woods aren’t real but have been made up by the elders of the village to scare people from venturing too far into the woods. And why? Because (twist two) THEY’RE LIVING IN THE PRESENT TIME IN A FAKE WILDLIFE SANCTUARY!! Unfortunately, by the time this is revealed, you’ve sat through hours of dumb, stilted dialogue spoken by uninspired characters.
3. Terror Train
It’s Halloween… ON A TRAIN! Seriously. That’s what it is. In fact, according to an IMDB trivia nugget, it doesn't aspire to be anything more. The writer woke up in the middle of the night and said, “Hey! I should put Halloween on a train.” His wife said, “That sounds terrible.” So he wrote down “Terrible Train." Then he changed the title to Terror Train the next morning. The plot hinges on a “prank gone wrong.”
The problem is the prank itself immediately torches any chances of feeling pity for the protaganists. Here's their idea of some wacky hoodwinkery: Jaime Lee Curtis’s friends (Yes JLC is in this too) convince her to lure an awkward frat pledge into a dark room with promises that they’re going to… you know. Except in the dark, they do this HILARIOUS thing: they put a woman’s corpse in the bed with him! Not surprisingly, he goes crazy, and then comes back later to kill all the fratty pranksters while they’re partying on a train. How these people a) have not arrested or kicked out of school, b) haven't killed or eaten each other for fun (because they're clearly sociopaths), and c) are able to get a freaking train to have a party on is beyond me.
A storm traps John Cusak, that snarky doctor from Scrubs, and some other people at a motel in the middle of nowhere, and then someone starts offing them one at a time. Perfect! A classic slasher! Nice and simple! Right? Wrong.
Identity is the classic case of a screenwriter failing to understand that less is more. At some point, we start to see images of a mental patient being rolled through an asylum. Soon we learn that all of the characters are people living in his head, and the doctors need to find which one is killing everyone because that’s the voice that’s making him crazy and dangerous. Well, low and behold, it ends up being the little boy and he manages to kill them all! Because in every one of the not-shown killing scenes, no one had the smart idea to just kick that little brat in the face!
Mostly, flawed movies are frustrating. But every so often, you find one so flawed that it’s beautiful. In a typical bad movie, the bad parts stand out, distracting the viewer, but in a movie like Birdemic you get the feeling that any moment, no matter how fleeting, of good cinema would harshly contrast its otherwise uniform terrible-ness. No need to sum up the plot or describe what's wrong. For this one, I'll let the trailer do all the talking.