Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Horror Event of the Summer

I'm sure most people will look at the online ads for Alexandre Aja's Mirrors and roll their eyes at 20th Century Fox's move to call their film "The Horror Event of the Summer". But I think Fox deserves some applause for giving this a hyperbolic hard sell as a Horror Film. No matter how popular horror may be and no matter how much money these films make for their respective studios, there's still a lingering stigma to the genre that carries over onto the way these films are advertised. So to see any ad campaign for a horror film fly in the face of that makes me happy.

Years later, my nose is still out of joint at the way Arachnophobia (1990) was promoted as a 'thrill-o-medy' by Buena Vista (a division of Disney). Honestly, if a studio can't admit that their killer spider movie is a horror film, that's just obnoxious. Why make a movie that you don't believe there's an audience for? "Gee, too bad we made a horror movie - who the Hell are we going to sell this to?" What's worse is that a week or so after Arachnophobia came out, Buena Vista tried to adjust the ad campaign to reflect its scare factor by running new commercials with night vision views of audiences jumping and screaming at the film. I don't know...would it have been so hard to just live with the shame and sell it as a horror film in the first place? Sure, Arachnophobia isn't much of a horror film but its still a horror film.

Judging by the new red band trailer for Mirrors, Fox may have simply realized they had no wiggle room in selling this bloodbath as horror (KNB puts yet another feather in their cap with that jaw-ripping scene) but it's still gratifying to see Mirrors being sold as full-on, R-rated horror because the summer film I thought would be taking that slot, Midnight Meat Train, is being all but dumped by its distributor, Lionsgate. This is reportedly due to intercompany politics rather than any animosity towards the movie but it's still galling. After all, where would Lionsgate be without the Saw franchise? Horror put them on the map so for them to give such a shoddy treatment to a movie like Midnight Meat Train that's so anticipated by fans just points to the way studios still feel it's acceptable to brush off horror.

So whatever Mirrors' merits as an actual film might turn out to be, I'm just pleased at the way it's being promoted. It's not the 'Thriller Event of the Summer', or even the 'Suspense Event of the Summer', it's 'The Horror Event of the Summer'.

Here's hoping that Mirrors delivers and thanks to 20th Century Fox for knowing that Horror shouldn't be ashamed of its own reflection.

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