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die hard is a xmas movie | by maryann johanson

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

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.

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