Monday, May 2, 2011

A Small Ranting # 1: Based on a True Story.

Here's the True Story

When I first saw trailers for The Haunting in Connecticut I swore that I would never see that movie. I hate movies that are based on "true stories" or "true events" because when they're turned into movies, they always lean much more to the fictional side of the events that are being declared true, thus rendering all factual points being made moot. Not just in horror, but in any genre. I hate them. They're not workings of the human imagination, they don't do dick for us aside from show us how sometimes we can be genuinely good creatures to one another, but most of the time show us how fucking right awful we are to each other. The trailers looked ridiculous, another flash in the pan ghost story about some family moving into a fuckered house and experiencing all sorts of fuckery from every shade in the fuckered rainbow. Which is a lot of colors, let me tell you. These kinds of movies go back to fiction from a long year ago. About a hundred years last Thursday to be exact, or to be exaggerated, you pick. Books like Shirley Jackson's 1959 novel, The Haunting of Hill House, and my personal favorite, Richard Matheson's 1971 novel, Hell House. Just to name a couple.

But back to the TRUTH. I had no interest in this movie, for obvious reasons. A co-worker of mine got onto the subject of horror pictures, and I said there hasn't been one in a very, very long time that's even unnerved me a little bit. At least from the American side of the cinematic ocean. Martyrs was a bit unnerving, but it is a beautiful piece of horror cinema, as is Takashi Miike's Audition. Neither has anything to do with anything supernatural, but they imply supernatural goings on occasionally, but there's nothing supernatural about them. Sometimes, real world horror applied in fictional settings is much more effective than monsters or ghosts or ghouls. True story. Moving on. This co-worker said that The Haunting in Connecticut scared him, so for some reason my logic detector went out the window and I said, "I'll have to watch it then." I don't know why I said that, or why I made that sort of decision. What scares me is a massive contrast to what'll scare other people on any given day. I mean, there's a reason why people come out of horror movies all scared, or they'll turn their eyes away from the screen, or jump and scream; and why I laugh through 99.9 percent of them.

So, then I watched it. And I hated it. It was ridiculous Hollywood horror cinema at its finest, far too reliant on jump scares, and never daring to go to the edge of what's acceptable in order to jar your minds or your imaginations. Before the movie ended, however, I started doing research on the supposed "true story" that this movie was based on.


Thanks to the modern era that we live in and the simple fact that information of all kinds and every sort is available at our finger tips, this bullshit marketing scheme of "based on a true story" falls entirely flat. Like The Exorcist and The Amityville Horror before it, The Haunting of Connecticut hasn't an ounce to truth to it whatsoever it. What it is is the vulgar fictions of two demented "paranormal investigators," Ed and Lorraine Warren.

First, The Exorcist. I know there's a lot of Catholics out there. I know that there are a lot of Christians out there. Both of which manage to let their belief systems interrupt the parts of their brain that process logic and reason. That's not an insult, or at least it's not meant to be one, I promise. What it is is evidence that these filmmakers are preying on you because of your belief system to sell their fucking movies. And I'm a FAN of The Exorcist, I was even named after it. The Exorcist movie, and the novel before it, was based on a "real life demon possession!" That of a still unidentified young boy where all the supernatural happenings either happened when no one else was in the room but the boy, or can be logically explained. The boy was also a known prankster before he began his little fits that led to him being declared as possessed by a demon and eventually exorcised by Catholic Priests and the like on numerous occasions. This went on for a while until the boy was hospitalized, then POOF. Miraculously cured of all demons inside him. An elaborate hoax to get out of going to school? That's the cleanest explanation, and it just so happens to follow Occam's razor. William Peter Blatty heard of the incident while in college and that lead him to write his novel, The Exorcist, which I still haven't ever really read. William Friedkin's filmed version of the story does a brilliant job of blending the supernatural and real world stuff to the point where you almost never know if Regan is possessed or not. At least until the end of the film. But it's entirely fiction.

Just as The Amityville Horror, which just so happens to have had the Warrens, Ed and Lorraine, and their declaration of it being a demonic possession of an entire house. The Warrens used to be Ghost Chasers, but that all ended when The Exorcist film was released and saw an enormous amount of success, so they began to chase demonic possessions instead; trying to capitalize on the success of the infamous horror movie. Amityville followed The Exorcists path and had a book written about the events that has been edited and re-edited time and time again because, as with all these stories, no one can get their stories straight. OJ Simpson's defense team did a better job getting his story straight than these families can. The book was followed by a great deal of movies based on the supposed event, including a remake in 2005, starring that Ryan Reynolds guy, that further pushed the event into ludicrous fictional areas.

Then we get to The Haunting in Connecticut. If this movie scared you, you're a pussy. That's all there is to it. None of this happened, in fact, the co-author of the book that this is based on disowned it and has said that he's glad the thing is out of print. He was told by the Warrens, Ed and Lorraine (I like writing it like that, it makes me sound sophisticated, or even journalistic!), to just make shit up and make it scary to fill in the gaps between the stories being told by the family that lived in this supposed haunted house. A family that was going involved in drug abuse and alcoholism and none of them could get the story right whatsoever.

The movie itself is an elaborate joke made on me to get me somewhat interested in a film that riffs on several basic plots from the books I mentioned in the first few paragraphs of this blog. There's a seance, there's ectoplasm, there's all sorts of weird stuff going on; all of it eeriely similar to Hell House and The Haunting of Hill House.

Based on a true story my ass.

Here's something to think about, in reflection of this trite film and how somehow "based on a true story" is some killer marketing ploy that a whole lot of folk believe in. There's a film out there, a horror picture, from 1984 that involves several teenagers having sleeping issues. They have a shared dream and they refuse to sleep that leads to their eventual deaths. The film was based on a series of articles in the LA Times in the 1970s about Hmong refugees that were suffering from horrible nightmares, they refused to sleep, that lead to some eventually dying because of it.

The movie is A Nightmare on Elm Street, it's influenced by true events with graphically fictionalized elaborations on what those dreams entailed; it was immensely successful, and never once was it touted as being based on a true story. It didn't need to be. Elm Street was art, the by product of real world information being processed through the human imagination so that we may understand it better, or come to terms with it happening. Anything and everything that's "based on true events" is just a load of bullshit being sold to you for being gullable.