The Orphan and why I’m tired of “scary” movies

There are some bad horror movies that are intentionally bad, and are therefore are very entertaining movies. And then you have the bad horror movies that intend to be good, but are really awful (e.g. anything M. Night Shyamalan has made since Signs.) Very rarely do you get a thriller that sets out to be a good horror flick, and actually is. I have been waiting a while for one of these, and I’m not sure it will happen again in my lifetime.

I’ve all but given up on the genre. Every time I get excited about a trailer, I end up being entirely disappointed in the movie. I haven’t even gone to the theater to see a horror film since Frank Darabont’s, The Mist, and even he let me down. I’m not going to say that everything that has come out is complete shit, but I am saying that nearly everything is.

I was actually pretty impressed with A Haunting in Connecticut which I watched on dvd this week. It wasn’t that it was a good movie per se, it just wasn’t as horrible as anything else I’ve seen recently. I would go into a deeper review of this particular movie, but the last part of it is a little ambien-blurred… which may have played a part in my liking of it. I will say that they made a nice marriage of the clichéd “haunted house” element, and the clichéd “weak person imagining things-not really seeing them,” element. I did think that while the acting wasn’t horrible -the dialogue was- and for a “based on true events” film, it was pretty unrealistic.

One film that did catch my attention is The Orphan I knew not to get overly excited when I saw that the director, Jaume Collet Serra’s only other film was House of Wax. However it does have every element that you need to have a potentially successful horror flick.

First, you’ve got Peter Sarsgaard. His creepy John Malkovich sounding voice is probably enough to land any movie a spot on the “horror” shelf at your local Blockbuster. Then throw in a creepy little kid that has the uncanny ability to manipulate everyone around her; a naive couple; a big giant house, and another kid who sees the evil in the first kid and no one believes him.

Then of course add in the most important element of all, the twist.

The twist has become a staple in Hollywood horror films. If there were no twist, the viewer would leave the movie wanting more. Scary movies have become more about keeping the audience on their toes, then making them pee their pants. Usually I’m all for this. I was genuinely thrilled in the moment when I found out all of the characters were actually personalities of a murderer in Identity. Hell, I’m pretty sure I had a full out geek-gasm in the moment that I discovered Bruce Willis was dead the whole time.

That being said, a friend sent me a (spoiler alert) site that reveals the twist to The Orphan. I really don’t even know how to react except for saying that  Hollywood,  you’ve officially jumped the shark.


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