Post-Halloween Rant (aka why ‘Slasher’ Killers suck now)

Alright, I let Luckas speak his mind plenty on the Jeff The Killer commentary and I think I need to be a bit more objective and clear on my problems with that and a lot of other similar stories.

Jeff The Killer  tries way too hard to make you feel bad for Jeff while at the same time trying to make him scary. And when you try to do both those things at once 99% of the time you’ll accomplish neither. It’s just a simple fact.

Take the Halloween remake, for instance. It fucked up the idea of Michael Myers so badly it made me want to cry of disappointment. What makes Michael so effectively terrifying in the original film is that you knew little of what, if anything, actually drives his actions. What we knew was this:

Dr. Loomis is one of my all time favorite horror movie characters because he is our only insight into Michael Myers. It’s not only the words on the little speech there, but the face and voice of a man who looked into the eyes of a child and saw ‘pure evil’ that sends chills down your spine more than anything else. This is a guy used to dealing with insanity; used to seeing the worst of people, and the mere thought of Michael Myers being loose shakes him to his very core. That’s all we get and that’s all we need.

In the remake what we get is this whiny little kid being treated like shit by everyone for full minutes before we get something attempting to mimic the Michael Myers we’re supposed to (not exactly) know and (definitely not exactly) love. And when we do, we look at him and we see that whiny little brat acting out because everyone stepped on him. That’s not… It’s NOT… Scary. Worst of all, they turned Dr. Loomis into an incompetent asshole. Because Michael clearly isn’t the blank faced, wordless, monster he clearly already was in the first film as a child. We see Michael act like a pretty normal kid and not understand why he can’t go home. So the implication of this is that he became the monster while under Loomis’ care. What a fucking load of shit.

*sigh*

The point of Michael Myers is that he was an evil, unstoppable, force. There was no reason, no emotion, no conscience to him. And in John Carpenter’s own words; the audience was never supposed to relate to him. We are not supposed to understand him because he is, deep down, something beyond reason or understanding. What inspires fear is not the man holding the knife, but the fact that try as you might you can’t make sense of what drives his actions. Therefore, every time you see him you can never quite know what he might do. In the remake, because they exposed so much and because they humanized him at every freaking chance, he’s not even just a man holding a knife; he’s a messed up little boy holding a knife. It’s not scary. If anything at all it’s annoying, but to me he wasn’t even worth that.

Same goes for Jeff; why all that sob story? Why all the bullies and the stupid incompetent adults in his life? Why? If you want to make your character a terrifying thought to your readers/audience, then don’t try to make them care! Not that Jeff The Killer actually does; it doesn’t make you care. Killer or not, Jeff was an unlikable twat; but considering everyone else is in that story I guess I can’t blame him.

Ehem… moving on… >.>

The original Friday The 13th (THE slasher film), The original Nightmare on Elm St, Alien, Jaws… They build up the tension before showing you the monster, they paint the picture of an unstoppable deadly force and create that sense of dread that comes from knowing something is out there, but not being able to actually see it. You can’t tell me the story of a thirteen year old kid and expect me to believe he’s an unstoppable deadly force. How well do you think Friday The 13th would have worked if they’d just shown you a middle aged woman holding a knife before even showing the opening kill? I would have laughed my ass off and then slept like a baby. Instead of, you know, lying in bed wide awake waiting for morning light. >.>

I know I write a lot about writing, but I don’t like to give advice. Most of all because I think too much advice can mess with your head, but if you’re a writer reading this, open your eyes wide and pay attention, because this is the one advice I’ll actually dare give on this blog: Think about the effect you’re trying to cause.

I know this should go without saying, but I refuse to believe that someone would ask themselves “is this whiny kid being bullied by absolutely everyone building enough tension in my horror story?” and actually think ‘yes, yes it is!’. It’s actually less pathetic to believe no one actually thought that one through. >.>

“You give people too much credit.”

Hush, Luckas… Go to sleep.

*glares*

Worth it. 😛

B.B

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2 thoughts on “Post-Halloween Rant (aka why ‘Slasher’ Killers suck now)

  1. Hi! Thank you for pointing this out. You’re on the money there – one of the most important things for building tension in fiction lies not in what you can see but what you CANNOT see and quite a few writers in film, books and even video games seem to forget that quite often these days. Turning what used to be a source of insurmountable evil into an emo/metal pussy made me puke inside my mouth. I reckon they expected viewers to empathise with him? Well, having been both the school bully and the victim at different points in my life, I just found the whole Michael character laughable, in a bad way.

    Very nice blog by the way. I’ve just randomly stumbled upon it and it looks really interesting. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jump scares, blatant gore, and tragic villains are the easiest paths to follow in horror nowadays and sadly the fact audiences have become a lot more tolerant of these practices makes trying to cause a sense of dread in a story without having to resort to such cheap tactics a risk most writers are just not willing to take. Cheesy as some of the older horror flicks might have been at least they clearly had some real effort for the first two or three films. You know, before the sequels start getting cartoony. 😛

      Thank you for your comment, Paul. I’m glad you like the blog. 🙂

      Like

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