NO-ONE will be surprised to know that out of all the possible film-genres, my personal favourite is horror.
Because of that, I feel I had to make this call to any fledgling horror directors who want to chuck their name into the pantheon of greats such as John Carpenter, Wes Craven and George A Romero.
‘Please, think carefully before you make your movie.’
It’s with no great pleasure that I write this. The movies I’ve grown to love since I first sat through John Landis’ An American Werewolf in London are becoming cluttered with mediocre efforts purporting to be ‘horror’.
What is it that has sparked this reaction, you may ask. Well, to put it bluntly, it’s this idea many have that just because they like the genre, they can attempt to become the ‘next big thing’ in scary movies.
Be it the upsurge in piss-poor found footage flicks – Evil Things, The Tapes and The Fourth Kind – or efforts to create the next slasher franchise – The Watermen (more about this later) – something is being lost between idea inception and actually making the film.
Few things in the movie world get me angry – apart from anything by the Wayans Brothers and the poor excuse for a ‘vampire’ trilogy that is The Twilight Saga – but recently I’ve found my blood boiling, and it’s not good for my health.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware there are some decent/good/great releases out there – Ti West’s The Innkeepers, Howie Askins’ Evidence or Lucky McKee’s The Woman – but sadly, these little gems are becoming few and far between. There are even some very impressive short-film makers such as Axelle Carolyn and the concept behind Jovanka Vuckovic’s ‘The Captured Bird’.
I’m just as aware that there have always been terrible examples out there – but some of those tended to have aspects that made them entertaining in some shape or form or even, dare I say it, endearing.
I’m no movie snob, so don’t get your knickers in a twist. I like cheesy horror too – Adam Green’s Hatchet and Hatchet II are knowing in their attempts to recreate the slasher films of the 80s, and they work for that exact reason. Meanwhile, James Wan and Leigh Whannel went down the micro-budget route with Insidious and scared the shit out of audiences.
If you have the right ingredients and REALLY know how to treat the genre, you can be on to a winner.
It’s unfortunate that we find ourselves in a situation where anyone who likes horror thinks they can make a horror.
I have a message for them: YOU CAN’T!
I’ve always been known about awful horror, but the sheer volume of them becoming mainstream is slightly worrying. In fact, now that I think about it, the fact some of them are even being made is distressing.
Wrong Turn was a nice inclusion to the feral cannibal-style horror made famous by the likes of The Hills Have Eyes. The sequel was just as entertaining. Then came Wrong Turn 3 – shot like it was a soft-porn-cum-MTV horror, it was terrible. Knowing the same director – Declan O’Brien – has been greenlit for a FOURTH is just soul-destroying.
Last year I bore witness to some trash – John Mallory Asher’s Wreckage and Dominic Perez’s Evil Things. One was an attempt at creating a new horror villain. It wasn’t very good. The other was another unoriginal example of how the found-footage sub-genre has more misses than hits.
I’d like to ask these directors why they feel the need to chuck anything they think will be a decent addition to horror on screen? Do they not stop to think that it will be another reason why some critics never take horror seriously?
Unless their idea grabs the attention with a specific visual style, a memorable bad-guy or an off-the-wall take on an area of horror that’s already staid, they’ll be wasting their time before a camera is turned on.
Worse, there’s a growing trend of films being made that are such an abomination that you tell any newcomer to horror to avoid them unless they wanted to be put off for life.
That brings me to Matt L Lockhart’s mind-numbing car-wreck that is The Watermen. This, might I add, isn’t a review – that’s coming towards the end of the month. What I’m doing here is issuing a warning – AVOID THIS SHIT-HEAP at all costs.
Not only is it an affront to the genre, it’s lazy, unnecessarily crude, badly acted and, quite simply, a mess.
If some think I’m being mean-spirited or overly-scathing, watch the film then come back to me. But don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.
I can accept a horror director that makes an effort with his or her film. I can even get past those movies that are generic, but don’t bore me.
What I can’t do is accept lazy film-making. And that’s the banner The Watermen, Evil Things et al fall under.
How difficult is it in post-production to ensure there are no glaring continuity errors during editing? Some of the things I’ve seen are borderline criminal. Missing these mistakes should tell a film-maker they aren’t cut out for it.
And the fascination with filling screen time with pointless shots of tits and ass, girl-on-girl kissing that’s never hinted at prior to nor referenced after taking place or even douchebags willing to flash their ball sack is beyond tedious.
It’s heartbreaking to watch the film style I love being shat upon by these horror ‘fans’. Their efforts are missing the main ingredients expected of a good scarefest – tension, characters we can care about and proper frights.
So this message is for you, the director. If you adore horror the way I do, you’d be ashamed of some of the efforts being immortalised on DVD and Blu-ray.
If you can’t do something original. If you can’t bring something a little different to proceedings, take my advice…
…DON’T DO ANYTHING.