5 Horror Movies That Ignore Their Own Rules
Nitpicking fiction is a fool's venture, because it usually amounts to you shrieking "But HOW does Superman FLY?" while your family is just trying to have a nice dinner for once. But sometimes you can't help but call movies out on discrepancies, especially when there's stuff that defies the logic they set up in the first place. And the horror genre can be super bad about this. Which is why I want to talk about things like ...
The Sixth Sense Has Issues With Ghosts' Physical Interactions
Thanks to a decade of clumsy, self-indulgent films, it's hard to remember that M. Night Shyamalan used to be, like, the raddest director on the block, as all the hip kids called him. Back in 1999, he released The Sixth Sense, which not only kick-started his career but reinvigorated Bruce Willis' as well. And make no mistake, this is a really good movie. But it's not as tight a package as it seems.
First and foremost, the little kid Cole tells us that the dead don't know they're dead. This is important for two reasons: One, it makes us question a lot of how Bruce Willis interacts with the world, and two, it's blatantly untrue for every other ghost in the movie. But we'll start with Bruce. We see him at home, in a restaurant, and walking on the street. He is continuing to live his life outside of his interactions with the boy. So, like, how does he get into buildings?
Willis doesn't ghost through doors. He opens a bunch of them, and we even see the knob turn on his basement door. Does no one think strangely of doors mysteriously opening and closing all the time? We see Willis break a window midway through the movie, so he 100% interacts physically with the world. Did he never actually try to eat dinner all those times he came home late? Or even shake his wife's shoulder to wake her up? Even Cole's half-assed attempt at saying that ghosts see what they want to doesn't account for why everyone else isn't seeing the routine effects of this ghost on the world.
Not the mention the fact that Cole has no reason to know any of the things he's said about how ghosts work. How could he? At that point he's never tried to communicate; he's just been terrified of them. If ghosts are everywhere like Cole says, and they can all interact with the world like it seems they can -- remember that a different ghost opened all the cupboards in his kitchen, and his grandma keeps moving a necklace -- then we should all be living in abject terror of the never-ending influence of busybody spirits.
Lights Out Doesn't Know What Light Does To Its Monster
If you like movies that take place in the dark and are specifically about the dark and have titles that talk about how dark it is, Lights Out is for you. It actually has a cool concept: The thing you fear in the dark (in this case, it's a ghost/monster/demon/crazy lady) can't be there when the lights come on. Sadly, even though these rules are very simple, the movie can't quite master them.
Don't get me wrong, the demon allergies are illustrated in some pretty neat ways. At one point, a police officer tries to shoot the being, and she disappears whenever there's a flash from the muzzle. That's kinda cute. But then the movie reveals that she can be seen in black light, which is never adequately explained. And THEN it reveals that when she's in the black light, you can harm her with regular light. Did the heroes get, like, a DIY shadow monster kit in a deleted scene or something?
Aside from being video game boss logic where Link can only start swinging his sword when the monster starts glowing red or whatever, the whole movie crumbles because of it. Toward the end, this shadow-teleporting monster gets her arm stuck in a door, so the hero burns it mercilessly with a flashlight. But like, why? This creature was literally moving from shadow to shadow, popping up in closets and across rooms before. Is it a magic door? Can she teleport around oak wood, but is rendered powerless by the almighty pine cabinet?
Your best answer to this question is going to be that the black light roots the monster in place, and sure, that works, I guess. But if you're gonna go full Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual with this and give us a killer spirit with intricate strengths and weaknesses, the least you can do is explain why half of them are what they are.
28 Days Later's Infected Should Just Kill Each Other
While most classic zombie movies never bother to explain why the zombies are around (George Romero was like "Here's zombies! Here's metaphors! I'm out!"), Danny Boyle opted for a "realistic" approach in 28 Days Later by making it a virus outbreak. The rage virus infects people quickly, triggers the aggression centers of the brain, gets you jacked on adrenaline, and basically makes you a wind-sprinting messy British killing machine. Yeah, super rad, but it also actually violates its own rules.
We've come to accept that zombies don't eat other zombies because that refined undead palette of theirs lets them know when flesh is spoiled, probably. What excuse do rage zombies have? They're driven by insane anger, so why aren't they attacking each other? Even if something in the virus makeup lets the host know that another infected is around, that would have to work by smell, right? So how does it smell the difference between infected and not? I'm not asking for lengthy zombie-sniffing scenes; just a throwaway line of exposition would work.
As these guys are all Usain Bolting from one victim to the next, there's just no way for them to distinguish between an infected victim and a non-infected one. If all that motivates them is pure, animal rage, then they should kill everything that moves, and probably beat the shit out of a few mailboxes and the shit they bump into as well. At the end of the day, there should be one super enraged zombie on a pile of his victims. And that, my friends, is The Rock's next movie.
Happy Death Day Doesn't Follow Its Own Rules
I really enjoyed Happy Death Day because it took the funniest part of Groundhog Day and then made it into a slasher movie. What if you kept being murdered on the same day over and over again? That simple scenario worked very well, and you didn't need an explanation -- or even a Bill Murray -- because sometimes less is more. That said, the logical structure still managed to fall to shit in mere minutes.
On Day 2 of her loop, our hero Tree leaves her dorm several seconds later than she did the first time around. However, the same couple is immediately behind her as she walks out the door, the same guy pulls his shades down to look at her, the sprinklers turn on the moment she turns right, the alarm goes off the moment she hits the crossroad path, etc. Everything happens exactly as it did on Day 1. And on the next loop, she rushes out and everything catches up with her, down to precise footsteps and location timing. No matter when she leaves that room, everything outside is not in pace with reality, but in pace with her.
So is she reliving the same day, or creating the day around her? At one point, we learn that all the trauma she's experienced in her many deaths is real. She has internal scarring from her stab wounds. This is never relevant to the plot or even mentioned again, by the way, but it does support the idea that she's not reliving the "same" day again and again, but creating the day again and again. Maybe this could get a sprinkling of explanation in the third Happy Death Day film? Probably not, though, as the producer has said that a third one isn't likely, even though the second one made over a 700% profit.
Bird Box's Monsters Can Apparently Do More Than They Let On
Man, people sure did love Bird Box. And if you refuse to think about anything that happens, it's actually fun to watch. There's some good acting too, and a whiskey'd up John Malkovich should be in every film. But that shit did not follow any rules.
The gist is that something appears which makes people immediately and insanely suicidal as long as they actually see it. This implies these creatures are physical entities, and it's supported by the fact that they stir leaves when they move and birds know when they're coming, and they can set off car proximity sensors. So the things have mass of some kind. In fact, by the end of the movie, these boxy bitches are actually talking to people. Sandra Bullock gets harassed in the woods as they chase her around and talk to her and probably tell her that no one actually liked her in the seventh grade.
These are physical beings capable of communication. So why not slip that goddamn blindfold off Sandra's face? Why not smash some windows when everyone is in a house? Why not knock on the door and pull the ol' "Free pizza!" scam? And when the survivors are in a car going to the grocery store, why do the creatures leave them alone after a few minutes? It's like they have wicked ADHD and can't follow through on their humanity-destroying plan because there are fidget spinners to play with.
If they're intelligent enough to have an agenda (which they definitely seem to, considering the suicide powers), and they have some sort of physical prowess, and they can whisper mean things to you, then why does the movie's timeline last five years? The whole thing should've been over before Malkovich could get through his second miserable sentence.
For more, check out Why Horror Movie Slashers Are The Best Wingmen Ever - Horror Movie Parody:
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