Every now and then, someone comes up with an incredibly original idea. A fresh way to approach a movie. These ideas tend to mark a point in cinema, celebrated for being able to break out of the monotony of films. This is all very well and good, but the problem with this is the fact that quite often it starts a trend. Maybe your approach to a film is cheap and easy to make. Maybe a up and coming film-maker wants to have a slice of the media attention.
However these things start, a novel idea quickly becomes a bloated sub-genre, taking away any form of originality. B-Movies are especially to blame, often jumping onto any bandwagon they can think of. None of these sub-genres are particularly dated either, all fairly recent. Yet I have grown sick of them and do not want to see any more of them, unless someone has something really interesting to do with the premise.
3 – MOCK-UMENTARIES
Mock-umentaries are a good way of making a movie feel more serious than it actually is. Sometimes they are good for portraying biopics. Either way, what started out as a good idea became a go-to way of handling exposition, quickly becoming boring.
Alpha Dog used the mock-umentary style to give us insights into the main characters without cramming pointless strands of story into the mix, as well as adding to the true story feel. However, the writers seem to only occasionally remember this and threw it in from time to time. District 9 had half of movie with it and then moved on to better things. The flaw with this style of film is that there is only so much you can do with it. Sure, it has a nice, original feel to it at first, but then the audience begin to want something more from the material. A common trait for this kind of film is for it to fizzle out at the end. See Alpha Dog.
Exception to prove the rule: The Wrestler. It gets rid of half of the subgenre’s trademarks and simply implies that this is a documentary. Subtle tricks like filming Mickey Rourke solely from behind give this film an authentic, and more importantly original, feel.
2 – HOME INVASION MOVIES
People are going crazy for this kind of movie after ‘You’re Next’, but personally, this has had its day. Every plot trick I can think of has been used and there is nothing left to tell with the genre. People in house, trapped, attacked by killers (often masked). There isn’t a whole lot else you can do with the story and films like ‘The Purge’ often get bored with the premise before the film is over. Keeping the idea fresh means that bigger plots are needed and I am beginning to lose faith with the storylines we have thrown at us. Out of all of the genres, I don’t necessarily want this to go away, but I think it needs to back down a little.
Exception to prove the rule: The Strangers. No home invasion movie is necessarily bad, but they are all similar. I saw The Strangers first, it handled the material well, keeping it simple and therefore it is my favourite out of the bunch.
1 – FOUND FOOTAGE MOVIES
We all know ‘The Blair Witch Project’ even if we haven’t seen it. A group of teenagers take a camcorder into the woods and film themselves being scared. It’s simple, cheap and, even if it’s not very good, is original enough to be recommended.
The thing that really annoys me about found footage movies is that they are cheap to make and sometimes that is the only reason the director makes the decision to use this style. B-Movies are the worst for it, bringing out countless found footage horrors. If Paranormal Activity started out strong, by now we know every gimmick in the book. Another downside is that watching the shaky cam technique isn’t easy, so we need to rewarded for sticking with it. When we are treated to a routine scare by some rookie director, we feel like we have wasted our time on the movie. I am avoiding this sub-genre from now on, a good idea being quickly killed by amateur film-makers.
Exception to prove the rule: Cloverfield. It approaches the sub-genre with a massive budget, so it is nothing like its cheap counterparts. Cleverly directed and suspenseful until the end, I would recommend it to anyone.