… That “Hell No” trailer for the film-that’s-unfortunately-not-real: that it sends the same message actual horror films are sending.
In the trailer, sensible people make sensible decisions: cops wait for back-up, college kids don’t enter the spooky cabin in the woods, guys don’t follow cheerleaders into insane asylums to play with Ouija boards … and everyone lives. In actual horror films, college kids do a host of stupid things, like going into haunted houses, cabins in the woods, insane asylums, dark tunnels, spooky attics, poorly lit basements … and so on. They follow blood trails instead of calling the police. They follow the strange sounds as though they actually want to know what’s making them. Walk down a creepy forest trail in the middle of the night? – how else can they be attacked by serial killers, chainsaw maniacs, vengeful spirits, zombies, cannibals, lunatics, werewolves, aliens, or hordes of irradiated spiders!
But they do these stupid things for the same reason the “Hell No” crowd was not doing them: they’re demonstrating how actions become consequences. Crazed mountain men? – they’re chasing you because you took a wrong turn. Ghosts possessing your children? – that happened because you insulted the ghosts, or stole their house, or used their belongings, or any number of things that you did. Demons eating your girlfriend? – well, you shouldn’t have bought that Ouija board. It’s not the bad guys’ fault … it’s yours.
In the “Hell No” trailer, no bad things happened because everyone made good decisions. The characters’ survival was their own doing. In real horror films, horrible things happen because everyone makes bad decisions. The characters’ demise is their own doing. Either way, the message is the same – these events can be controlled… by YOU!
People who don’t like horror films don’t always appreciate what the films are doing – they’re letting the audience live in a world where unhappy events, evil that occurs, and bad guys that exist are entities that can be predicted or outwitted or understood. If we behave a certain way, then we can guarantee what will happen. If we don’t behave like the dopes in horror movies, then we can guarantee our own safety. Horror movies – and the “Hell No” trailer – allow people to forget that real evil pretty much does whatever it likes, no matter what we do, with no guarantees, no safety, and no warning.
Suddenly a monster-filled cabin in the woods seems like a comfort, doesn’t it?