|Now, where have I seen this before?|
So, what’s my point? That teenagers are bat-shit crazy? That we can be Vikings, heroes, zombies and demons? That Medieval Times should add zombie jousting to their dinner tournaments? Yes to all of these, but mainly, my point is that there comes a time when genre fans must acknowledge that the same circle of horror filmmakers are reheating the veal and serving it up as steak. I mentioned on Twitter that I was going to review The Conjuring on my blog, so I suppose this is the crux of it. The Conjuring is a good film, but only because the actors in it elevate the material. I mean, Lilli Taylor? Vera Farmiga? That’s anti-suckage insurance right there. I wish all horror directors would invest in the premium.
But if you took the actors out of this film, you’d essentially just have what is tantamount to a TV movie on the level of 1977’s The Possessed. Of course, the market saturation began in the Seventies, thanks to a film about a little girl who just wanted to play some Ouija and buy a horse (sidebar—Ellen Burstyn trying to sell Sunday as a great day for a birthday is probably the one terrible bit of acting she has ever done). That film became a hit, and then suddenly, everyone was possessed with possession. Producers catered to it then for the same reasons why they throw their support at it now: because it’s easy money. The same thing happened with the zombie subgenre, to the extent of Fulci having to slip some undead into The Beyond just to appease his investors. And I think that’s the worst of it—when artistic integrity is forced to take a backseat to studio self indulgence. It’s much more of an offense to me than simply tacking “of the Dead” to your protagonist and calling it a film—which is, by the way, a whole other Oprah.Having said all of this, I don’t go to the cinema to have my life changed. I realize that we could transfer this argument to any other horror subgenre, such as the slasher. My problem with rehashing the same old ideas is that it’s being done to the exclusion of new ones. There are writers and directors out there waiting for an opportunity to get their stories out , and they’re being ignored in favor of their “more proven” counterparts. If you’re a fledgling filmmaker, you quickly find that social media only works if your community supports you (and good luck with that), or if you are successful in lighting your farts on camera without cauterizing your anus. One of the wonderful things about horror in the Eighties is that while the market was exhausted with bad demonic possession, zombie and slasher films, it also offered up a wellspring of work for everyone—especially first-time directors and women—so that everyone could put their slant on the genre. And they did. But when it comes to seeing anything original for our money today, I guess we can all just go to hell.