I have suffered through some horribly cheesy movies of late. This is mostly due to 3 things:
1) Free ‘Premium’ channels on Dish [I set the DVR to record anything that sounded vaguely interesting.]
2) Halloween [Yeah, apparently ‘scary’ and ‘stupid’ are supposed to go hand-in-hand?]
3) NaNoWriMo [Waiting for the 11/1 kickoff, I’ve been wasting time doing things other than writing.]
To be honest, there is a 4th cause to the cheesy-moviethon: I like them. Actually, it’s not that I like suckhole movies. I really do abhor the thin storylines, contrived plots, flat characters, and horrendous dialogue. What I ‘like’ about them, is picking apart all the wonky, god-awful elements.
Last night I watched some stupid flick titled Countdown Apocalypse or Apocalypse Countdown or some such. The supposed apocalypse was utterly, utterly lame. And I never did experience any sort of countdown. The bulk of the movie was some chick wandering around–always moving–in a plane, walking across the desert, navigating the streets of Old Jerusalem, in a car between cities, hiking up stairs in a building, wandering aimlessly down long hallways, etc. Seriously, laid end-to-end, the main character’s footprints would wrap around the equator seven times.
During all this slow walking and uneventful travel, there was no dialogue. Like, at all. Instead of meaningful words to let me in on the lady’s state-of-mind or how horribly distraught she was over her daughter being kidnapped and shipped off to some antichrist processing facility in Tel Aviv, I got to enjoy symphonic music which–I am reckoning–was supposed to cue my feelings. Or something. It just made me sleepy.
About 15 minutes in [translation: 10,987,789 footsteps already traveled], it struck me that only 10 lines of dialogue had been spoken. The main character, Allison, spoke very little. And when she did, 90% of the time it was in the form of a question. Seriously. Lame. Watching with a friend, of course, we started shredding the movie’s suckiness. My job was to simply announce “Question” each time Allison posed one. While the pace of my job was uber-leisurely since she hardly ever spoke, I soon grew tired of hearing my own mouth say the same word each and every time she delivered a worthless line.
My buddy’s job was pointing out every time a character said something one moment only to contradict it in the next breath. Not as some form of characterization, but as [idk the hell what!] perhaps a failed attempt on the part of the writer to infuse tension? Maybe?
So here is how I would write in the style of Countdown Apocalypse:
Allison wore her tanktop which plainly showed the backwards culture that she was a hot, blond American MILF. She walked to the foreign taxi. Although it should only have taken 3 seconds, the journey took days. Slow emotional music echoed in her head.
“Can you take me to Jerusalem?” she asked.
“No. I am on my break. Well, okay,” the cabbie answered.
She rode along over a barren landscape which stretched out for millions and billions and trillions of miles. She stared out the window looking neither sad, nor bored, nor scared, nor anxious. But the somber tune continued to echo all around her. After 40 days, she arrived at the hotel.
“Did my husband check-in?”
“No, he did not. Oh wait, yes he did. Yesterday.”
“Was my daughter with him?”
“Yes. I mean, no. He was alone.” The innkeeper paused as Allison grimaced with horribly acted, false sadness. “Here, have a tissue, you sad American lady. Oh, prophets! The box is empty.”
“Can I have the key to our room so I can put away my stuff even though I will never pay attention to it for the rest of this boring ass movie?”
The innkeeper searched the desk, his pockets, the empty Kleenex box. “I’m sorry, it seems I have lost the spare key. Wait! Here it is. It was waiting right here with this important envelope I was supposed to give you. Enjoy your stay!”
“This hotel has a staircase, right? Would you mind if I took it up to the 785th floor so I can stare at the unopened envelope for 45 minutes as I climb?”
“No, I’m sorry. We only have an elevator.”
“Then what is that door with the stairway symbol?”
“Oh, I guess we do have stairs after all.”
“So you mind if I take them? How are the acoustics in there? Will the sad music effectively emote for me since I don’t have the capacity to do it for myself?”
The innkeeper nodded his head in slow motion to indicate that the sound in the stairway was awesome. “No, the sound in there is horrible,” he said.
Allison ate up 20 minutes of screen time, eventually reaching the door. Pausing, with her hand on the knob, she spoke through the wood, “Isn’t there some kind of countdown I should be worried about? Shouldn’t I be racing to save my daughter before it’s too late?”
The door stood silent. But the music droned on.
I won’t even go into the contrivances, false tension, lack of real plot or resolution, or the stupid ending I waited 6,500 hours to discover. What I will share is that I don’t understand how ‘stories’ such as these become actual movies. It really baffles me.
Going into NaNo–the 4th cause of me watching this P.O.S. in the first place–I am extremely aware of the need to avoid dead scenes, empty space, and groan-worthy dialogue. Also: stereotypes, dangling elements, lack of emotion, a pretend ticking clock, and subplots which go nowhere. While I was already well aware of those pitfalls, this fustercluck of a movie drove all these points home. So, maybe it’s a work of genius after all? Ummm…
“Why, oh why, do I subject myself to this crap?”
:: Cue heartfelt, symphonic music as Lucas trudges ever-so-slowly towards November ::
Current countdown to NaNo at the time of this posting: 15 hours, 12 minutes, 58 seconds