These are the movies that try horror connoisseur’s souls. Breaks our hearts. Causes us to lose faith in humanity.
Okay, maybe not. But there is a class of horror movies that makes me scream, “WHY??? Why would you do that??” I don’t mean like when the requisite Twit with Tits hits the killer once, wipes her hands and slowly saunters away. They deserve everything they get…except for your time. No. I mean horror movies that come so close to greatness…and then they go and royally fuck it back down to a good movie you love, but which never fails to plague you, because if only they hadn’t done ______ or if they had just done ______, it would’ve achieved horror greatness.
Examples of reasons to downgrade a movie that I would recommend for all horror fans, to “Yes, but…”. Bad casting. A “twist” that is either too convenient, too outlandish or is just too clever by half. A character who, out of nowhere, within one moment, betrays everything true to that character…and I mean, such an utterly, completely Sybil-split-personality 180 degree flip-change, that no plot twist can explain it. When the creators run out of ideas and the plot goes completely off the rails. Bad CGI, a special pet hatred of mine, because it can easily turn what should be a terrifying monster into a dumbass cartoon. An infuriating ending–not just ambiguous; I mean, Wait, what? Where are you going? What about_____? What happened to _____?. Dialogue so contrived, cutesie, or unpleasantly bizarre (as opposed to good-bizarre, a la David Lynch), childish (exception: Quentin Tarantino, whose characters all speak the way you’d expect a badass seventh grader to speak…as well as Samuel L. Jackson)…or simply anything a character might say which nobody would ever actually say in life, to any other fully sentient being. Anywhere. At any point in time…ever.
Or, and I’m looking at you, What Keeps You Alive, when an otherwise seemingly intelligent character suddenly does some-something that no living, semi-conscious, successfully breathing person with a functioning brain stem–during the most rock-bottom, dumbass moment of their lives–would ever even consider doing, because BULLSHIT.
In fact, these movies bother me so badly that I could only find a handful within my burgeoning collection…because when a horror movie commits cinematic self-harm, I usually can’t forgive it enough to buy the DVD. It just feels like a fucking betrayal, the kind of break-up where there’s no being good friends, just bye. Like Surveillance. Carnage Park. Houses of October. And again–oh my god, fucking What Keeps You Alive–a movie I resent almost as much as I love. Because WHY THE FUCK DID YOU DO THAT NOBODY WOULD EVER DO THAT NEVER NO SERIOUSLY WHY DID YOU DO THAT…WHY BITCH WHY?? It’s borderline masochistic, and yet I keep watching it. And it is also one of the few Flawed but Worthy selections I’ll be doing in the foreseeable future.
…as well as one of my favorite frustratingly good-but-could’ve-been-great horror movies: Outcast (2010…not the 2015 Nic Cage piece of shit), a movie which never fails to gut me by committing one of these cinematic sins to such a horrible extent that it almost ruins the movie for me–a horror movie with every single reason to be great…but then they ________ and fucked it back down to “good, but…”. Still, it is definitely good enough to be my first selection for a frustratingly flawed-but-otherwise-so-good movie that it is still definitely worth watching.