Sometimes you finish a screener and state blankly at the screen. The abyss stares back. Just your reflection in the screen. You did this. You brought this on yourself. All the movies in the world and you watched this one. Because you’ll watch any horror movie. Because they’ll make any horror movie because people like you keep watching them. The bar for watching horror movies is low. There is about as much inherent joy in a good one and a bad one. Though, different kind of joys. And you watch both but only sometimes does the screen stare back and judge you. It judges you and reflects back your expression, the result of the last hour and a half. Blank. Void. Empty. Face to face with yourself, the arbiter of your own destiny, who chooses to watch horror as a lifestyle, a way of being, a necessity of watching movies and investing wholly in the low budget culture that produces such genre oddities.
Not too bad, you think. Just another in a long series of misadventures in the search for meaning and affirmation in the movies you watch. Go make any horror movie. The risk is low and the upside is plausibly high. Make a movie about a few college age girls who travel to the Mojave desert and pose for Instagram pictures, and a naked alien armadillo crashes into their Dad’s pool and leaves a terrible inky mess, and the neighbor boy simply won’t help but likes to leer, and then the creature stares into the girls’ eyes and sexually manifests himself into their will and makes them his puppets. Make the movie because you believe in yourself. Because anyone will watch that movie. Why wouldn’t they watch it?
The movie is okay, after all. It isn’t going to shatter anyone’s expectations. It floats by without any real conflict, not quite a cat to save but certainly an alien armadillo to figure out about. You don’t really need to invest in the young women. They will not invest in themselves. The line readings are, you might think, purposefully awkward. But they play toward an idea of making a bad movie with intention. Which is at least a kind of irony but not a necessary one that pays off for an audience. Because so many of the readings are just bad and out there, and totally disconnected from the women’s presence on screen and their relationships to each other. So, they cannot quite adapt, or the script doesn’t let them, but it’s all serviceable enough, you might think, for a movie about an alien armadillo, and who would disagree?
You do like horror movies, right? You watch all of them. This has to be just for you. Sam Walker made a movie just for you. A movie to fill the void and then leave you in it. Blank screen. Just yourself and your decisions about life. Not every horror movie is a winner but how many great subversive ideas have you found in the most bargain bin looking VHS slipcase and do-it-yourself DVD-covers and straight-to-Shudder? A joyous amount, you tell yourself. This is why you do it. To find a movie that does not work but passes the time by indulging in your favorite past time of peculiar horror. So go ahead, nobody is stopping you. You only have yourself to answer to, starring back at you in the blank screen after the movie is over.