Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Hollywood Babble On & On #719: Insidious Inspirations

The PG-13 horror film Insidious has become the most profitable film of 2011, grossing $50 million on a $1.5-$2 million budget, that some say includes it's extremely modest advertising campaign. Naturally the filmmakers are going to try to repeat that success with new low budget horror projects.

So what has this film and its success taught us?

1. You don't need to break the bank to make
a movie.

The money used to make the film wouldn't cover the contract riders for the typical A-Lister's entourage's entourage. They made it for Hollywood's equivalent of pocket change, and it was in profit by the end of the first screening.

Thanks to developments in technology with cameras, and post-production it has never been cheaper to get the capability to make a professional looking feature film. The fact that movie budgets have an inflation rate similar to Weimar Germany comes from human factors like bloated star and executive salaries that usually outshines their performance, and shoddy, if not shady business practices.

2. You don't need to break the bank to sell a movie.

One of the biggest costs of modern movie-making is buying ad time on television. It's considered essential for a films success, but getting the best spots can cost big time, even when the network you're buying ad time from is part of the same conglomerate that owns your movie studio.

Insidious broke the mold by stripping their ad campaign to the bare bones, using the internet to spread word of mouth and keeping their TV exposure limited to carefully chosen programs on cheaper cable channels. Because the production budget was so low, they felt they could afford to go so low key, and were proven more than right on the issue.

3. A horror film that delivers the scares doesn't need an "R-Rating."

When I was a kid R-Rated horror films were in their golden age. Masked slashers rained blood and gore across screens all over the world. However they didn't have to be R-Rated to be good horror films.

You see, my childhood was also the golden age of the scary television movie. TV movies like Dark Night of the Scarecrow, Bad Ronald, and The Night Stalker/Night Strangler were creepy, scary, and devoid of the extreme violence and gore that many people think are essential to a horror film.

Hell, The Changeling (with George C. Scott) is positively tame violence wise, but it's still one of the scariest movies I ever saw simply through the use of suspense and tension over shock and disgust.

4. Horror works better when done cheaply.

Horror requires one crucial ingredient: Uncertainty.

If the audience walks into a horror film they shouldn't be able to guess who is going to live or die by who the biggest star is. Big A-List stars are usually going to be the ones who make it to the end, while all the other, less attractive, players meet their grisly fates. Bam! Kiss your uncertainty goodbye.

They also have to be uncertain about the nature of the movie's "monster," whether it's a ghost, a beast, or a masked maniac. In horror darkness is your friend. It creates that precious uncertainty, and guess what, IT'S CHEAP. Spending millions on CGI monsters ruin the mystery, because the great expense of their creation means casting them into the brilliant sunlight to show off every penny spent on scale and fang rendering.

Now if only the rest of Hollywood could learn these lessons, we'd be saved a lot of hassle, waste, and crappy movies.



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1 comment:

  1. kevin J waldroup4/5/11 11:54 am

    What do you think of Declaration Entertainment ?