Monday, January 12, 2009

Musings on Teenagers in Horror Movies

To continue writing about film, today I'd like to write about something completely different. As some of you know, I'm working at the movie theatre (AMC Highlands Ranch 24) over winter break. It's a minimum wage job, so I'm doing it more for the free movies than for the money. Last night, I was working as I usually do on Friday nights, because that's when the theatre is most busy. (Saturday night is a close second.) During my break, I wandered into The Unborn, not because I wanted to watch it, but because there were no other movies playing in the general vicinity and I wanted to sit down.
What I saw in there shocked me. Not the movie; from what I saw, it looks full of cliches, bad teenage acting, and a lousy story supported by maybe a couple good scary moments, which I like to call 'jumps' because they make you jump. I was shocked by the way the audience was reacting to the movie.
I had ripped most of these people's tickets on their way in, so I knew most of them were middle and high school kids on dates and in groups. I was shocked at the sheer NOISE going on in the theatre. Walking in, you'd think you had walked into a rock concert instead of a movie because the people would not stop talking. The scene playing when I walked in was just a quiet talking scene, but the crowd was constantly buzzing and chattering, clearly not paying attention. I was confused as to what was going on, but then I saw what kind of crowd this really was when the scene turned into night and the scary scenes started.
Immediately, you could feel a change come over the audience as they all got just a little louder and started murmuring things like, 'oh, something's gonna happen,' 'i remember that guy, he looks so scary.' Something weird happens, it's more weird than scary, but all of the girls in the audience start screaming, completely drowning out the sound of the movie. Not just yelping or that little scream that happens during the jumps; LITERALLY SCREAMING. As loud as they could. Dozens of girls, all at once. And these girls all must have been good singers, because they managed to hold that scream for several seconds, and then restart at the same pitch and volume. Then, at the end of the scene, there's a jump, it's not a very good one, but then the crescendo came: all of the girls, and some of the guys, let out this piercing scream that continued well into the next scene's dialogue. Without helping it, I was laughing my head off. The film was nowhere near that scary and I had never seen an audience react that strongly to any movie. A strange thought passed through my head as I left: Gran Torino was playing in the next theatre. If any of those girls behaved the same way in that movie, someone would call the cops on them.
Now, I understand that bad movies, especially bad horror movies, are inevitable and are actually a part of our culture. That's exactly what they're there for: so that teenagers can have a place to go to and socialize in. Clinging to one another brings them closer together and makes them better friends when they leave. But at one point in time, during the upward rising of female screams, I did hear one male voice among all the others shouting, 'Shut up!' This was the one voice of reason in that theatre.
These girls weren't really scared by that movie; if they were, they won't survive in the real world. They were screaming their heads off not because they were scared, but just for the sake of screaming their heads off. Now for the sake of fun I can't condone that, but I have to wonder about that part of society if there are murderers, rapists, diseases, and an ever-sinking economy in the real world, and these people are only really concerned about that creepy old man that may or may not do something scary so that they can scream as loud as they can.
I know everyone in that theatre walked out saying the exact same thing: 'oh my God, that was SO scary.' Unoriginal. Not unique. No opinion of their own. But I'm sure that one guy who yelled 'shut up' will say something different, and his opinion will probably be closer to the truth, not because he has the guts to be different and to have a dissenting opinion, but because he just sees it for what it really is: 'man, that was so stupid.'

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