September 15, 2010

"If you’ve got, so to speak, the devil inside the elevator, press the call button. Call Otis."

"You’re trying to make this fun, I can understand that. But I’ve never heard of anything like this."

"Okay, what if one of your fellow passengers bites you?"

"Smack the person across the face."

Elevator expert is questioned a propos of this movie trailer:



Oh, I see. All our ridiculous primal fears about elevators are going to be exploited. IF... and I stress if... we subject ourselves to another M. Night Shyamalan movie.

It seems silly to make big expensive wide-screen movies about a few people stuck in a small space. Such things would do better on a theater stage. Like "No Exit." Or, even better, on TV. Like "Five Characters in Search of an Exit." ("Twilight Zone" video begins here.)

I truly loathe the movie techniques used in that trailer — music, swooping shots, editing — to try to make something inherently small fill the big screen. Our fears are in our heads. Put us in touch with that. Don't hurl screenfuls of flashing lights in our face and blast us with cheeseball music. That just makes me feel bad, and then I get angry. To scare me, you must be subtle.

Just a barrel, a dark depository where are kept the counterfeit, make-believe pieces of plaster and cloth, wrought in the distorted image of human life. But this added, hopeful note: perhaps they are unloved only for the moment. In the arms of children, there can be nothing but love. A clown, a tramp, a bagpipe player, a ballet dancer, and a major. Tonight's cast of players on the odd stage known as the Twilight Zone.

35 comments:

ricpic said...

It's called the irresistibility of technology and it's what makes most current films unwatchable.

shoutingthomas said...

I can't understand why people need phony terror, excitement, adventure and romance in their lives.

I've had so much real terror, excitement, adventure and romance in my life that I could go the rest of my life without any more.

I will be accused of boasting... and I guess I am. I wouldn't recommend living the way I've lived.

But, if you've got to go to the movies to experience the full breadth of life vicariously, I'd suggest you try changing the way you're living.

Skyler said...

Ann, 99.99% of the country does not go to theater plays. If we're going to see an elevator scenario, it will be in a movie.

That being said, I don't think hollywood or the movie industry know how to make good movies anymore.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I can't believe they're still giving Schlemielyan's name pride of place. You'd think by now they'd be trying to hush up it up and hope that enough people go see it before word gets out that he's involved.

Lucien said...

Apropos of nothing, Bill James has a great piece "Life, Liberty and Breaking the Rules" over at Slate this morning.

Perhaps nominally about sports, but deeply about politics and culture.

Apropos of the topic, I thought "Hell in a Very Small Place" was about Dien Bien Phu -- and after watching the trailer, I don't want to see this movie.

Then again, I didn't really want to watch Cloverfield, but when it was on the tube for free the other night, it did help to pass the time, despite the preposterous premise/

Scott M said...

M. Night Shyamalan, much like John Carpenter, peaked too early. From The Village on has really sucked canal water.

I understand that this isn't really an M. Night movie. It's the first of three done by other film-makers based on M. Night ideas. So, maybe it could be good movie.

Frankly, though, if you believe there's a God, then you have to believe there's an adversary. Why pry open the door any more that lets that entity in by going to see "entertainment" about the topic?

MadisonMan said...

I know an man named Otis who invented a room

And his heart was full of pride.

I said to Mr. Otis "What does your room do?"

He said "It goes from side to side"

So I said "Mr. Otis if you take my advice, you can be the richest man in town.

You've got to take that room that goes from side to side, and make it go up and down."


My Good Advice? This doesn't look like a good movie. Better thing to do: Read And Then there were none. Distant cousin of the movie.

lemondog said...

Night of the Living HElevator

The world in microcosm. We are all trapped together and going doooooooown..........

Otis is Space Odysseys HAL.

john said...

I noticed the obligatory Samuel L. Jackson look/act-alike. But were there also snakes on this elevator?

When it comes out on DVD (2 days after theatrical release) there will be a gag reel.

edutcher said...

It was done better on an episode of the Dick Van Dyke Show, with Don Rickles.

MadisonMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MadisonMan said...

Otis is Space Odysseys HAL.

Nuts. Did it backwards the 1st time.

IBM:HAL::Otis:Nshr

Tibore said...

"Our fears are in our heads. Put us in touch with that. Don't hurl screenfuls of flashing lights in our face and blast us with cheeseball music."

That unfortunately would never, ever have been the goal from the moment of inception. While Shyamalan didn't direct this film, he did write and produce it, so those elements would've been part of the movie from the very beginning.

But I agree with the professor: Make the mind do the work of scaring the individual. Anyone remember the movie Se7en? Anyone remember the murders committed? Ok, think about those, then try and remember how those murders were presented: They were pieced together in the aftermath by the detectives studying the crime scenes. We never actually saw the fat man while he was being forced to eat until he burst, for example, nor did we ever see the model while she was being given the choice of life with disfigurement or death. All we saw were the bodies. And yet, the deaths were vivid in our minds as viewers because so much of them was left unsaid (just recall for yourself the kinky sex guy's reaction to how he was forced to kill the prostitute; we never even saw that victim, only the "tool" used. Yet that was enough, more than enough even to sear the vision into our minds. Even though we never actually saw the victim).

There's something almost gratuitous about being so frank with the scary elements.

The best scare tool is the viewer's imagination. The best scare tactic is to leave much unshot and unviewed. While Se7en isn't necessarily a horror movie like we're all used to (i.e. supernatural forces bent on killing people through fright), it's still more than a simple thriller in that it accomplishes its goals the same way horror films should: By letting the viewer fill in the blanks. In that, it's a more effective horror movie than many of the ones that are out there.

Robert said...

When did Ann become an expert film maker? She hates the techniques used in this trailer like music and editing? If we exclude the use of music and editing that pretty much excludes every movie ever made. Is there any great sequence in movie history that doesn't use music and editing? Maybe a couple...and those ones use swooping camera shots which Ann doesn't like either.

I think she's having another day where she's blogging too much.

Tibore said...

Oh, I guffawed at the comment in the linked NYMag article:

"This guy has never heard of someone stuck in an elevator with a demon? What kind of elevator expert is this?"

LOL!

Ann Althouse said...

@MadisonMan Interesting! I have had dreams about that original elevator so many times that in those dreams now I remember the earlier dreams and try to figure out if this is a dream. And, no, I don't need anyone to explain to me why I have that recurrent dream.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann, 99.99% of the country does not go to theater plays. If we're going to see an elevator scenario, it will be in a movie."

I guess you didn't get to the part where I talked about TV.

Ann Althouse said...

@Robert Read what I wrote again: "I truly loathe the movie techniques used in that trailer — music, swooping shots, editing — to try to make something inherently small fill the big screen."

I loathe the techniques used to try to make something inherently small fill the big screen. Concentrate on that. I think the film techniques should relate to the material in a better way.

And I'm very sensitive to music. I love the great use of music in a movie — eg "Psycho." But there's way too much loud but dull awfulness sprayed all over the place these days. Same with the visual techniques. It's not artful. It's crude. It's like a restaurant that tries to make crappy food taste good with a lot of extra fat, sugar, and salt.

The Crack Emcee said...

M. Night Shyamalan.

NewAger.

You'll figure it out eventually.

Scott M said...

M. Night Shyamalan.

NewAger.

You'll figure it out eventually.


No idea nor do I care past the point that he apparently sucks as a movie maker and had three incredibly ingenious flukes to start off his career.

peter hoh said...

As an hommage to John Cage's 4'33", I will be making a movie about 17 mute Bolivian miners trapped in an unlit cave.

Paul Zrimsek said...

I'm only getting on that phone if I get to say "Otis! My man!"

Marc said...

So all I got out of the trailer is that this all takes place in an elevator in Australia, right?

knox said...

three incredibly ingenious flukes to start off his career.

Honestly, not many in show business can say they have been involved in the making of three solid movies. Not to mention the fact that Shyamalan wrote and directed them himself.

Interesting stories and good characterization. Certainly "gimmicky" in some ways, but entertaining and even touching.

More than you can say for most of the crap that gets churned out of Hollywood. Poor M. Night: he's almost become a punchline.

Scott M said...

Poor M. Night: he's almost become a punchline.

Almost?

stevenehrbar said...

Just check the chart of M Night Shyamalan moveis over time.

Then you know what to expect from this movie.

Jason (the commenter) said...

After what Shyamalan did to Avatar, I'm pretty sure most people wont bother to go see this movie. I think that was the last straw for a lot of people.

Tibore said...

Note to other people:

"Jason (the commenter) said...
After what Shyamalan did to Avatar, I'm pretty sure most people wont bother to go see this movie."


Avatar, The Last Airbender, which M. Night did indeed do. Not Avatar aka "Dances with Wolves in Space", which is the James Cameron flick. Just in case anyone was confused.

Scott M said...

No fanboy could possibly make that mistake. To the fanboyz, they both sucked. There's really no pleasing that crowd...which mainly consists of people that have never nor will ever make their own film. Yet you constantly hear things like, "a very flawed film" when they talk about all things cinema.

That being said, of course, John Carpenter sucks ass...how does that guy keep getting work?

Tibore said...

[Derail]

I actually laughed out loud at this; the word verification that came up after I posted my last comment was "macho". Link to screenshot. :D

Calling Crack Emcee! I got a new avatar for ya! ;)

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

stevenehrbar said...

Just check the chart of M Night Shyamalan moveis over time.

Then you know what to expect from this movie.


Somebody making that chart rated "Signs" way too high. Although a few scenes were memorable, the implausibility overwhelmed them. Aliens who suffer and die at the touch of water can't figure out what that blue stuff is that covers 70% of the planet?

Honestly, I would rate "The Village" higher than "Signs". Even though the shock ending was telegraphed pretty much from the opening scenes, I felt he did a good job of giving the community a unique and insular character that made the shock ending almost plausible.

"Lady in the Water" was where I gave up. I saw an interview where he lamented that people had such high expectations from his early work, especially expectations of a shock ending; and so it made it hard for him to tell the stories he wanted, instead of the stories people expected. "Lady in the Water" was supposed to be his attempt to break out of those expectations. Well, if that's the sort of story he wants to tell, I'm not interested. Too boring.

As a comic book fan, on the other hand, I love "Unbreakable". It's chock full of nods to the fans. I'm not sure how many of them come through for the non-fan.

stevenehrbar said...

The person making the chart didn't rate the movies; those are the composite critics' scores from the Rotten Tomatoes site. Individual tastes may vary.

knox said...

Scott M, just twist the knife, whydoncha. ; )

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

The person making the chart didn't rate the movies; those are the composite critics' scores from the Rotten Tomatoes site.

Yeah, I saw that... just after I posted. Oops!

Doesn't change the fact that "Signs" is an overrated mishmash with an illogical conclusion. If the critics missed that... well, I never assume critics are logical.

Beth said...

We were just talking about No Exit the other evening. I loved that play in high school and re-read it recently. So many fascinating themes/ideas.

Also, just saw a movie trailer about a dude buried alive and has 90 minutes, a cell phone and a lighter. Guess that beats the small space of the elevator. And unless they're brave enough to let the dude die - then it's a waste of time to watch.