by Camela Thompson
Michael G. Munz started a trend in our household: Live tweeting horror movies. We pick movies based on the title and concept, and many of them have a very low rating. Sometimes I wonder if we are giving them a fair shot, but I know I genuinely want to find a hidden gem. I love horror movies. My current favorites are the improbable mashups of horror and comedy. This combination is brilliant when well executed and a side show disaster when it isn't. With all of the cliches in the genre, there are many opportunities to poke fun or make a throwback reference to an earlier work.
Other than material for tweet fodder, why would we do this to ourselves? There is actually quite a bit to learn from these movies as an author. Spoilers lurk ahead along with my findings.
The Mirror (2014)
The premise of the movie: Three friends purchase a mirror on eBay that is supposedly haunted and film the resulting chaos for a paranormal reality contest.
The positives: The acting wasn't bad.
The negatives: From the start, there was something hugely familiar about this movie. It took me about ten minutes, but I remembered Oculus, a horror movie my husband and I watched earlier this year. The concept is pretty much the same. A mirror possesses people. They do horrible things to one another. The main difference is that in Oculus two siblings are brought together to destroy the mirror years after witnessing massive carnage inflicted upon their family.
The issue wasn't the redundant material. As with many horror movies, there was a profound loss of logic. They didn't review the tape to determine who was shutting off the camera. No one went to the hospital when a reasonable person would go to a hospital. No one called the police to report a missing person... you get my drift. The inconsistent behavior stacked up until it was profoundly irritating. A friend joked that logic would lead to a shorter movie. I disagree. There are plenty of things that could still go wrong with a haunted mirror even if someone went to get stitches.
Review: I'd give it one star. The acting might nudge it to two, but the writing choices drove me up a wall.
The premise: Friends partying at a cabin piss off Aliens and all hell breaks loose.
The positives: Some of the classic horror constructs were followed while others were broken. The zany pot-growing neighbor with a nose for conspiracy theories was entertaining. It was funny to see the guy who played the jackass in Tucker & Dale vs. Evil play another jackass. I appreciated the references to prior alien movies and the surprise ending.
The negatives: Any time a movie highlights a dog getting hurt because they have a imbecile for an owner shoots me over the edge. There's a human death that just doesn't make sense, the aliens don't show up for most of the movie, and the construct is so intentionally classic that it's a bit irritating. At least The Cabin in the Woods had explanations in place for their choices that I found clever.
Review: Two and a half stars. I was entertained, but I would never watch it again.
Alien Uprising (U.F.O.) (2012)
The premise: Five friends binge drink and then wake up to Aliens on the verge of attack.
The positives: There were people in it.
The negatives: I couldn't list a single character I liked throughout the movie. Brosnan's character was hot-headed and irrational. The flashes to the future that happened throughout the movie were completely ineffective and annoying in their frequency. Flash forwards or flashbacks have to be executed sparingly and serve a meaningful purpose. These were neither (for lessons on effective scene overlay, look at Wayward Pines). Even progressive timelines were confusing. Aliens were scarce. The most egregious foul in this entire movie was a completely unnecessary sexual assault. It served no purpose in the plot and just plain didn't make sense.
Review: Zero stars. If I could award negative stars, I would.
If you want to check out some entertaining horror movies, I've listed a few I enjoy that aren't insanely popular. I'll be covering them in more depth in a future post.
If you want a mix of comedy and horror (heavier on the horror of course):
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
The Man Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
If you like straight up horror:
The Taking of Deborah Logan
Do you enjoy the horror genre? What is the best or the worst you've seen and why?
Freelance writer and Dark urban fantasy author featuring vampires with bite.