Like the game of an experienced minesweeper player, the horror movie industry is filled with more misses than hits. It follows that for every It Follows, we get four Annabelles. For every, Sinister we get six Sinister 2’s. The horror genre arguably hasn’t had a real hit since the last Home Alone movie. Yet not every horror film can afford to have McCauley Culkin set up intricate traps in the underworld. For those of you not caught up on the series, Culkin’s character was burned alive to death in the Home Alone film before this, and he was sent to live in the Underworld (but sometimes mischief has other plans in store! Out 2/13/2016 direct -to-blu-ray-then-at-a-later-point-dvd).
Too often do horror films have a hack like Gene Hackman or that Nobody who played Odysseus in the movie Get Him to the Greek Gods. Though the price for quality acting and directing can be high, I do not expect nor want every film to be like this, to be a high budget thriller. Thriller and horror are two different genres. However, I expect horror movies to understand what they are doing wrong and “ex-terminator” it (reference to the new terminator movie about Schwarzenegger’s character breaking up with his robot girlfriend. A literal tear jerker).
Firstly, cinema of the horror variation needs a compelling villain. A movie without a good villain is like a book without a good villain, like an anime without a good Krillin; it just doesn’t work. Prime examples of good movie villains can be found in Devil, The Nightmare on Elm Street, and Ice Age 4: Rise of Scrat. Unlike the casting of Gimli in the Lord of the Rings, I’m going to keep things short. I’ll only talk about Devil. Of course, there are two main villains in Devil, as I’m sure you’ve already induced, though one could argue big business is the third (and they wouldn’t be wrong!). One villain is Jonathan Johanson, though I’ll get to him shortly.
Basically, the basic premise of Devil, for the few of you who have not seen it is that there are six people trapped in an elevator which might actually be the devil. As the movie goes on it becomes clear that 5 of these six people are all the devil and they try to figure out which one of them isn’t the devil. Meanwhile the other plot follows Jonathan Johansson. Johansson is a completely relatable, everyman President of the very relatable Galapagos Islands, who in order to thwart a foreign terrorist attack must drive corrupt Toyota out of business (due to stealing American jobs and their sales of their very unrelatable weaponized Prius’). The attack is ordered to be carried out by the President of the United *spoilers* States. Johansson and Devil Elevator are examples of great villains: complex yet simple, an everyman, a man.
This is the first thing that horror movies get wrong. Too often are the villains simple, one dimensional cars possessed by the spirit of a dead ghost. And though for a longtime I’ve defended Cars 3: Mater’s Revenge, the bottom line is that it just isn’t scary. It just isn’t. One sec someone’s knocking at my door. Oh hey, Mater, surprised to see you here. Woah back up a little, you’re getting awfully close. Hey what are you – AGHHHHHGH!
Hey sorry about that guys, someone ding dong ditched my car. I mean my house. My car house. Yeahhhh, that one. Now that I really think about it, woah, Cars 3 is actually really good. It is a sexy thriller with a tour-de-Porsche performance by Mater. He definitely deserves the OsCar this year for what he turned in (some slick grass on the side of the race track) on screen. Mater is a personal friend and definitely innocent of any charges that for whatever reason might be thrown his way.