Monday, July 28, 2008

I Wanted To Believe


Sad to see the “X-Files” underperform at the box office with just 10 million over the weekend. Read somewhere that Chris Carter was under the gun to finish the script before the writer’s strike. The trailer looked ho-hum. Kind of hard to believe that he didn’t have a few polished “X-Files” screenplays tucked away for a rainy day. Looks like I won’t be holding my breath for another installment.

A few weeks back, Stephen King made a dire prediction in “Entertainment Weekly” about the film’s fate. His argument was that big studio genre films rarely work as well as the low budget variety. Brought up examples like “The Blair Witch Project”, “Night of the Living Dead” and more recently, “The Strangers”. Now I’m not trying to take a stab at one of my heroes, but what the heck is he talking about?

For every “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Blair Witch”, there are scores of awful low budget flicks that make you wanna tear your eyes out. When so many are being thrown against the wall, obviously a few are gonna stick. I can appreciate the charm and ingenuity of no/low budget films, but how can the master storyteller not bring up the fact that a lot of it comes down to story -- and a good hook?

And it’s not like studios are cranking out a ton of big budget horror flicks in the first place. “I Want To Believe” might have looked big, but it only cost around 30 million to make. Its poor opening weekend had more to do with the lack of a strong concept and lackluster marketing. Even the hardcore fans couldn’t be bothered.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think The X-Files had lost it's audience base before it even went off the air. The show had "jumped the shark" as the saying goes. With the exception of some hardcore fans there is no audience for the film.

If the horror films made by the big studios are handicaped in any way it's the fact that more people have their fingers in the script and in the production.
A smaller,low budget horror film tends to be closer to what the filmmaker intended as they have more control.

screamwriter said...

The mythology of the show became way too convoluted for me. But I was looking forward to something that was conspiracy free.

"The X-Files" is the granddaddy of a lot of the spookfest films that became popular over the years. A decent premise or a gotcha moment in the trailer could have gone a long way to attract casual moviegoers.

More control is a good thing, but I don't think that always translates into a good film. It's a little too easy to put the blame on the studios when a film fails. There are probably a decent number of occasions where the suggestions actually improved the film.

Rashad Ferguson said...

I have not had a chance to see the new X-Files movie yet so no comment there. As for the TV series I remember Frank Spontiz when he was promoting his Night Stalker series saying that initially Chris Carter had only plotted the show for 5 or 6 years and it was Fox Studios who was persistent on keeping the show on for so much longer which led to the debacle of those last two seasons.

What bothers me is it when it comes The Strangers and its success is that a lot of people including Mr. King are overlooking the fact that The Strangers not only had a good a script but good actors as well.

Too many times with horror movies indie or major the cast consists of the current internet hottie and hunk of the moment or your best friend’s sister who stunk the local community play.

When you look at movies like The Strangers, Vacancy, 1408, Saw and Identity besides having a good story they also had actors of great quality.

Too many times “horror filmmakers” get caught up in how to slaughter everyone, blast boobs and cleavage into our faces, tacky make out scenes and over top screams that we forget about casting quality actors and I’m not only referring to a John Cusack, Danny Glover, or Samuel Jackson.

Whoever is casted must have the goods to deliver a solid performance or one is force to rely on gimmicks. i.e The Hills Have Eyes 2….

I mean radioactive infected mutants vs. the military OMG that concept and what it brings to the table is infinite. But what did we end up with? National Guard rejects and a predictable rape and revenge scene…

Kristin said...

Basically, they waited way too long to cash in on the popularity of "The X-Files." I've heard it's gotten some pretty decent reviews, so it will be added to the Netflix list. It was a show that hit its stride, what, eight years ago???

Personally, the only episodes I ever liked were the ones that stayed away from the mythology and just were freaky. Those are the ones that stand out in my mind.

screamwriter said...

Rashad,
You bring up a good point about casting. There is that segment of horror fans who show up for the promise of gore and not much else.

King probably has battle scars from many a development meeting, so I get where he’s coming from, but I don’t think it’s that simple. You can do all the right things: preserve the integrity of the script, have a great cast, little meddling from the studio and still end up with a flop.

Kristin,
You're right. They waited too long.

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