A Month of Spookdays: The I-Can’t-Be-Arsed Moment

Something I’ve noticed about most scary movies I’ve watched: there’s always at least one moment of sheer stupidity. I’m not talking about the coed exploring the basement at night, when the electricity is out, and she’s just heard a strange noise, and most of her friends have been killed. I’m talking about lazy writing so dumb it almost seems deliberate.

In the relentlessly unfrightening Ring Around The Rosie, Karen is packing up her grandparents’ home. A home so beautiful and bright, I doubt Wes Craven could make it seem menacing. Near the beginning of the movie, Karen and her boyfriend are entering the house. Down a hallway, there’s an obvious portrait of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. The boyfriend straightens it. “Is that your granddad?” He asks. “Yeah,” our heroine replies.  No, no I’m afraid that’s FDR, but no one could be arsed to get a more appropriate prop.

One of the most egregious and oft-used spots for lazy writing is that golden moment when a character looks something up on the internet. It’s an easy way to replace a sage-like character who answers questions, but the results are often laughable. In Paranormal Activity 2, which I actually enjoyed, the daugher, Ali, looks up hauntings and demons on the internet, and concludes that since the phenomena are “persistent” it must be a demon. Firstly, any idiot who has ever read a book about ghosts knows that hauntings are persistent. I suspect most idiots who haven’t read anything about ghosts are pretty sure hauntings are persistent. Secondly, if you google “ghost”, you get 479 million hits. Demon, by comparison, gets a measly 179 million. And since neither exist, you can bet there is a stunning amount of contradictory bullshit in those millions of entries. This is why I cringe whenever a character in horror gets on the intertubes. Okay, except for Willow, who always gets a pass.

My last example I totally suspect of being half-arsed on purpose, because they obviously had tongue firmly in cheek for the entire movie. The thoroughly enjoyable Insidious had all my favorite haunt film tropes, from Karen Black to seances to geeks with equipment. There is a moment with the latter where one of them pulls out a couple of army action figures from a packing box and says “Star Trek, first series. You should have kept them in the packaging.” No, seriously, they were army figures. Little guys in fatigues and helmets. I’d say that no one could be arsed to get a more appropriate prop, but it was actually pretty funny.

I’ll be watching more horror movies as the month moves along. In the hopper are Priest, The Rite, Excorcismus, and anything else I can dig up that strikes my fancy. No doubt each of them will have a special, stupid, can’t-be-arsed moment.

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