Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Will YouTube ruin moviemaking?

Do I get thrown out of the horror geek guild if I admit that I found Blair Witch boring? Jerks get lost, someone's standing in a corner, the end. At what point was I supposed to be scared?

And where was the witch?

Blair Witch tried to pull the same stunt Jaws did. Disorientation plus apprehension equals jitters. But at the end of Jaws, I was rewarded when I saw saw the object of my terror made flesh and bone. Blair Witch wussed out.

"You're supposed to use your imagination," my friends explained. But by that logic, why make a movie at all? Why not just tell people there's something lurking under their beds and leave it at that?

If you go to the trouble to make a monster movie, you owe your audience at least one good, long look at the monster. Bless you, M. Night Shyamalan.

At least Blair Witch was trying to be original. Two new movies - Cloverfield and Diary of the Dead - sound as if they were modeled after UGC. They're monster movies, as they'd be posted to YouTube. Their style is the exact opposite of stalker vision. Instead of seeing what the killer sees, you see what the victim sees.

In theory this intimacy should be scary, but in reality it's almost always annoying. Because in real life, you'd never get to see the monster. It either eats you when you least expect it, or while you're running the opposite direction.

Cloverfield has received positive reviews and Diary of the Dead is the work of a film legend. They may turn out to be individually brilliant. But in general Hollywood shouldn't try to emulate the style of amateur Internet content creators. Hollywood's advantage is that it has the financial resources and SFX knowhow to actually show us the monster. It ought to exploit that edge.

Image from the The Village and Fair Use rationale found on wikipedia.

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