more by MaryAnn

even my henchmen think I’m crazy | by maryann johanson

torture porn, the tanking of ‘Captivity,’ and the dooming of ‘Sunshine’?

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 StumbleUpon 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×

So, the torture-porn flick Captivity tanked at the box office last weekend — it couldn’t do better than No. 12, earning a pathetic $1.4 million. And after being such a misogynist pig about the film, After Dark producer Courtney Solomon is backtracking and spinning:

“It’s overkill,” said Courtney Solomon, president of After Dark Films, which is behind “Captivity,” the story of a man and woman trapped and tormented in a basement. “I think audiences have said, ‘I’ve had enough.’ It’s as simple as that.”

Anticipating the end of the torture flick trend, After Dark has adjusted its development plans to steer away from a large number of torture movies, Solomon said.

Anticipating the end…? Bullshit. Solomon thought torture would sell, and when it didn’t, he says, Just kidding? Bullshit.

But that’s to be expected. Much more disturbing is to hear someone like Ryan Stewart at Cinematical suggest that the failure of Captivity is the failure of horror on the whole as a genre:

Aren’t there any horror fans still out there? Am I the only one left?

Fortunately, commenters on that post put him right, pointing out what I instantly thought when I read this: torture porn is but a tiny sliver of the horror genre, and 1408 is still going strong weeks into its release; it’s rated PG-13 and focuses entirely on the psychological aspects of horror — no John Cusacks were tortured, not physically, anyway, in the making of this film. And the record-breaking debut of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is mostly due to, you know, its Harry Potterness, but the film is probably the best horror movie of the year.

This worries me, though:

This Internet ad for the film Sunshine, opening this Friday, makes it sound like it’s torture porn, and it isn’t — not at all. Yes, characters die, but the film is not about how they die. And I fear that this wildly misguided ad campaign will turn off audiences misled into thinking it’s something it isn’t.

(Technorati tags: , , )


Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/flick/public_html/wptest/wp-content/themes/FlickFilosopher/loop-single.php on line 104
posted in:
movie buzz
explore:
  • maxwell horse

    I cannot describe or explain how entertaining I find Courtney Solomon. Not his actual works, but the man himself. Really. Following his career is one of the few joys in my life. His douche-baggery is like a beacon of light piercing the night over a stormy sea.

  • doa766

    I saw sunshine months ago and I can tell you it’s a pretty great film, it’s slow and climatic, and very creepy on the last half hour

    but it’s sci-fi all the way, not horror

  • http://www.flipsidemovies.com Rob Vaux

    Yeah, I’m not certain the ad in and of itself is a huge cause for concern. The film will succeed or fail based on countless other factors, not that ad.

    On the other hand, it does adroitly point out how little Hollywood understands about its own product, and how willing they are to jump on any fad because they think the kids are into it. “Torture porn sells! Let’s push our cerebral sci-fi flick with it!” Very, very sad.

    As for Solomon’s comments (beyond their obvious asshattery), they sound very typical of an industry that refuses to believe a film might fail because it plain old suck. There always needs to be market forces against it, or a difficult plot to sell, or advertising that failed to convey what it was about. It’s never because the film just blows. Never.

    Along those lines, I’d go so far as to say there’s nothing wrong with torture porn in and of itself, provided that there’s some genuine reason to put us through such unpleasantness. If it can be deployed effectively, with a clever subtext and/or entertaining technique, or its able to illuminate some real aspect of the human condition, then it could conceivably be a decent genre. I’ve enjoyed my share of gory horror films in the past, and I suspect I will again. the problem with Captivity and films like it is that it lacks that purpose. It has nothing to say to us, and no way to entertain us. So it resorts to geek show tactics, thinking that getting us to quirm is a legitimate end in and of itself. THAT, I feel, is the film’s sin. Not that it’s violent, or even that it’s violent towards women, but rather that that violence serves purely exploitative ends.

  • MBI

    Shitty product is a market force, right? Surely that’s what he meant.

    Also, you can’t anticipate something that’s already happened.

    Shame, really, I actually wanted to see what the fuss was all about. Unfortunately I can’t see it without driving like an hour. It’s easy to predict when a movie’s not going to do well, it’s when they don’t get sent anywhere but the gimungous multiplexes.

  • MaryAnn

    how little Hollywood understands about its own product

    *Sunshine* ain’t a Hollywood film. It’s pure Brit.

    Along those lines, I’d go so far as to say there’s nothing wrong with torture porn in and of itself, provided that there’s some genuine reason to put us through such unpleasantness. If it can be deployed effectively, with a clever subtext and/or entertaining technique, or its able to illuminate some real aspect of the human condition, then it could conceivably be a decent genre.

    Well, then it wouldn’t be torture porn. The complaint about these films isn’t about the graphic, gory violence per se but that the graphic, gory violence serves no storytelling purpose but is present merely to titillate the audience. There ARE movies that are extremely graphic and violent but that still have a little something more going for them (the first *Saw* was not pornographic; neither was the recent remake of *The Hills Have Eyes*). Porn, by definition, is nothing but gratuitous.

  • MBI

    I have mild affection toward the Hills Have Eyes remake, but I’d like to wonder that if that’s not “torture porn,” what would be?

  • MBI

    Actually, I think I can answer my own question. The jury’s still out on “Captivity,” as far as I’m concerned, and I’d actually argue that there is actually some depth “Hostel,” as little as I like it. But there is a little seen movie called “Chaos” that got blasted by Ebert, and that none of even my splatter-flick fan friends who saw it liked at all.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 StumbleUpon 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×