Monday, March 28, 2011

"Horror" Films?

Have you ever wondered why they're called "Horror Films" ? I don't mean all
of them. But most of them, particularly the popular kind. Or the kind that used
to be popular, anyway. You know which ones I mean. Screaming teenagers,
running from inexplicably inescapable human monstrosities armed with whatever
cutting implement is their particular trademark.

So, why are those movies called "Horror Films"? It is not like they actually were
about horror. Sure, you might flinch and bury your head in your hands or a kindly,
convenient shoulder when the screen fills up with torn bits and more red than an
actual human body could ever offer. But that's just a side-show, a little extra thrill,
like the one-liners and occasional glimpses of nude bodies before they are just
bodies and nothing more. But the main attraction, the thing that these films
actually are about, is delight.
Vindictive delight.

After all, there are never many characters whom we actually want to see
make it to the end of the movie, are there? The cast might be unique to each
flick, but it's largely interchangeable. Archetypes. There's the jock. There's
the bitch. The slut. The snob. The bully. The know-it-all. And any combination
thereof. And then, there's that one character. The one island of reason and sen-
sibility in a sea of ignorance. The under-appreciated smart and beautiful one
whom all those unlikeable pricks seem to look down upon at best or ignore
at worst. Genre enthusiasts know this character as the "final girl". She's the
one whom we all know will survive. And she's us.

It doesn't matter all that much whether one is a teenage girl, a grown man,
a child, short, tall, athletic, disabled, transgendered, black or white... We
are all this pretty young girl. We are the one who does things the right way,
or at least tries, or means to try. We are never fully appreciated, we are
outcasts, we are the ostensible loser. But we are better. Deep down, we
know that.

And, as the lumbering, invincible maniac swings his machete right through
the heads and hearts of all those ignorant, unlikeable pricks, we run, we
hide, we scream. We are scared. We are horrified by what happened to
all of them. But not really. They kind of did have it coming, didn't they?
For all their bragging and bullying; their privileged, easy life, their
getting-some when we don't, they really leave the world a better place
when they're gone.

And that's why we'll survive. Because we are innocent. We are pure
and smart and humble. We are right. We are normal, even when we
take pride in being everything but that.
Sure, the killer is still coming to get us. He might swing his weapon at
us, catch up as we run and scream, even hurt us with a way-too-close
call... But he will let us live.
Because he, too, is us.

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