Elisabeth Rappe January 12, 2012
Oh, my stars and garters. How does one pick just one overdone genre in a Hollywood that grows increasingly stale? In the age of the remake, can you really call anything with a shred of originality overexposed? Well, sure. But it’s still awfully hard to pick one.
Some might favor the superhero flick, which it’s popular to groan about loudly and theatrically about as soon as someone mentions The Avengers. (Watch them edge closer to the computer to watch the trailer, though.) While there’s been a lot of them in recent years, I’m going to give them a pass, because comic book fans have been waiting ages to see these stories on the big screen. They’ve also inspired many people to seek out comic conventions and comic stores, and as I have friends in that industry, I see that as a positive. (Besides, I still want my one really good Wolverine movie.)
Another choice might be the insipid romantic comedy ensemble, à la Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Day. But I think that’s already burned itself out. There’s only so many holidays love can flourish, and only so many actors who will share billing without clawing one another’s eyes out.
No, I think the most overdone genre has to be the “found footage” or “mockumentary” movie that’s done the rounds of horror and thriller so often that it’s exhausting. (Frankly, it’s ripe for a really vicious satire and I can’t believe one hasn’t been done.) Just looking at Wikipedia’s list – a list I suspect may be incomplete – makes my eyeballs ache from all the shaky-cam that’s on it. And just look at how many of them there were in 2010 and 2011 alone!
It’s easy to understand why there’s so many of them. They’re easy to conceive, cheap to shoot, and they draw in audiences with a massive question mark of whether or not it actually happened. Paranormal Activity worked because it appeared to be genuine, a Ghost Hunters Live special released into theaters.
But here’s the rub – that hook doesn’t work anymore. I’m amazed it worked for Paranormal Activity, since The Blair Witch Project gave the game away back in 1999. The film worked primarily because the Internet was still in its infancy, and until the film really exploded, you didn’t know whether or not such things happened in Burkittsville. (In fact, I was more unsettled by the television documentary The Curse of the Blair Witch than I was by the movie. I was very convinced by those woodcuts and artistic interpretations of the witch. In retrospect, it’s painfully fake.) With Google, it’s painfully obvious to discover The Last Exorcism or The Devil Inside is pure hoax, no matter how studios and marketing try to convince the gullible otherwise. Claiming your mockumentary is real makes your product simultaneously stupid and pretentious.
Because the “found footage” genre is so cheap and attention grabbing, I suspect we’re condemned to suffer a few more years of it before it finally suckers its last viewer. Oh, how I long for that day. Don’t you? Do you think it can possibly come sooner than 2013? (Glancing at the YouTube comments for The Curse of the Blair Witch, it may never come. Blair Witch is still hooking people more than a decade later!)
And once it does, what do you think will replace it? My pick for the next overexposed genre is the 300 ripoff. Immortals may have come and gone with a whimper, but Spartacus: Blood and Sand appears to still be going strong, and 300: The Battle for Artemisia looms on the horizon. Sword-and-sandal-and-green-screen is probably too expensive to be as used and abused as often as mockumentary, but I think it’s well on its way, and we’re destined to be buried in fairy tales, historical bloodbaths, and comic book adaptations that spray the digital blood, bronze everyone in the same shade of sepia, and blast our ears with wordless choirs and electric guitars. Remember, Blair Witch was in 1999, and it took a decade for that phony genre to reach its zenith. We’ve still got time for the Zack Snyder stylings to truly seep in.
Categories: No CategoriesTags: Found footage, Mockumentary, Paranormal activity, The Blair Witch Project