I'd honestly give more of them a pass if they were jump scares, as jump scares done right are thrilling. But "outta nowhere" deaths lack the framing and build-up of a jump scare. You get no jolt out of it. It's just hasty dying, and the vast number of these in a relatively short amount of time has made it impossible to connect with any characters. And why would you want to? They're just going to be in the middle of a sentence, get bitten, and then never mentioned again. It's like asking someone to enjoy a sandwich, but as soon as they get a taste of it, you pull it out of their hands and then insult them for trying to enjoy a sandwich. The Walking Dead is a bunch of stolen sandwiches. Five stolen sandwiches out of ten.
It Inevitably Becomes A Different Genre
The best part about the first few episodes of any horror series is the immediate brutality of them. I'd seen a ton of zombie movies before The Walking Dead premiered. The idea of a bunch of people being slowly surrounded by graveyard citizens was not a revolutionary idea. But when Rick Grimes was shuffling through the aftermath of Zombiepalooza 2011, and he started encountering all the weird stuff that people had done when faced with an undead crisis, well Jeeeeeesus. I felt like I did when I was eight years old and I'd plopped down in front of this thing called Dawn Of The Dead, because it wouldn't be that bad, right? I mean, it's the "dawn" of something, and that sounds hopeful.
United Film Distribution Company
nope nope nope nope nope nope nope
The same thing happened with the vampire hordes in Penny Dreadful. Eventually, knifing your way through a crowd of dead flesh monsters transitioned from a struggle to survive to John Wick minus John Wick. It's a conveyor belt of repeatedly stabbing zombies in the head. Rick Grimes has moved from being the beleaguered dad in a confusing, terrifying world to Steven Seagal In Dead On Arrival.
And while we never got a scene where Jessica Lange obliterated a hallway of mutants, American Horror Story had something similar, only with weirdness. About halfway through each American Horror Story season, the self-awareness full-body tackles the plot, leaving it unsure about whether it's a horror series featuring comedy, or a comedy series featuring insufferable plot twists. When Tales From The Crypt ended, it was no longer a fucking madhouse of irony and gore; it was an anthology about not-very-nice people doing not-very-nice things to other people that were secretly not very nice. And The X-Files became about David Duchovny's boyish grin.
20th Century Fox
The Twist: It was always about his boyish grin.
Even shows like Attack On Titan aren't immune to this process. The first few episodes of Attack are mostly concerned with giant naked people and their attempts to eat regular-sized clothed people. Maybe I'm a very specific demographic, but it's going to take way more than an hour to get me used to the sight of a tremendous baby man chomping down on screaming innocents. No matter how many times I see it, my reaction is still "Ah. This is odd."
"This is really becoming quite the interesting Wednesday."
But Attack On Titan slowly delved more into epic throwdowns than the intense panic of "THAT LARGE DUDE IS EATING ME. I CAN SEE HIS HUGE ASS." And while I'm always down for monster punches, I do miss the worldwide phenomenon of a bunch of people gathering around Netflix to watch the dietary habits of the big and shirtless. I miss it every day.
Daniel has a blog and a Twitter.
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