Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Struggle Between Good and Evil

Horror movies and superhero movies have a lot in common.

For starters, no one ever really dies. In terms of the big characters, that is. Sure, they may look like they’re dead, you can even watch them in the dying process, but odds are they’ll find their way back at some point. This leads to the second similarity – these two types of movies, more than any others it would seem, have endless sequel possibilities. Since you can always count on people not really being dead, there are always more stories to explore. Both these types of movies tend to tell stories with moral applications. They show both attributes to aspire to and those that need to be fought.

Like superhero movies, horror movies often have a main protagonist that shows up in subsequent movies, and is forced into fighting the bad guy once again. And in both types of movies, while the threat may subside for a time, it never goes away completely.

The plight of the superhero never ends. They never achieve the ultimate victory where they can easily pack away their cape, shield, lantern, spandex body suit, or what have you, and think, Well, now that that’s all finished, I can finally open that profiterole shop I’ve always dreamed of. No, there are always new and returning bad guys.

The surviving victims of the crazy serial killer from movie one may think that they’ve gotten their lives back and then bam, crazy serial killer returns to show them they’ve had no such luck. Or in the case of C. Thomas Howell in The Hitcher II: I’ve Been Waiting, the character just keeps allowing homicidal strangers into his car.

And the cycle goes ‘round and ‘round.

Despite the similarities, I find that I hate horror movies almost as much as I love superhero movies.

Now, I don’t mind if a movie is scary or suspenseful. I can deal with occasionally jumping while I’m watching the film. But I don’t want to feel all creepified for hours after the movie is over. I get that residual emotion is a sign that a movie has done its job. My hatred of horror movies has nothing to do with their quality. Some are definitely top notch. I just know that if I watch one, regardless of whether or not it’s well made, I’m going to be sleeping with my lights on. And by sleeping, I mean sitting in my room with my lights on thinking about how I’ll probably never sleep again.

Even more than not wanting to be scared for long periods of time, I don’t want to feel depressed after watching a movie. I want to know that the good guy will, nine times out of ten, succeed in saving whoever needs saving. I want to know that the same good guy will be back in the subsequent movies and not be killed off in the second or third so that loved ones are stuck continuing the fight against the never-diminishing evil. And if the good guy does die, I want it to be in some heroic sacrifice. Not because he or she ran upstairs when they should have just gone outside, or insisted on walking through the house without turning on any lights even though they know that someone wants to kill them, or just because they keep picking up those damn hitchhikers (seriously, just stop it). I want good to prevail.

Now, I’m sure some of my friends who are devout lovers of the horror genre could make some legitimate arguments in favor of these movies that I avoid watching. But what it comes down to for me is that when a superhero movie is over I think, Why not me? And when a horror movie ends, all I think is, Why?

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