The Fidget Spinner Horror Movie That Shouldn't Exist
What is a movie? According to the dictionary, a movie is "a story or event recorded by a camera as a set of moving images and shown in a theater or on television; a motion picture.” That makes sense. What, however, is a story? The dictionary has a few options here. A story is defined as 1) A narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale. 2) A fictitious tale, shorter and less elaborate than a novel. 3) Such narratives or tales as a branch of literature: song and story. This seems like a pretty easy metric to base content creation around. Why then does it seem as though Hollywood has lost the ability to tell a good story (most of the time?) Many directors like Edgar Wright and Chris Nolan still seem to put story first and build from there. The problem seems to stem from the studios attempts to chase trends and piggyback the success of similar projects. This became extremely apparent with this release and easily predicted disappointment of the Emoji Movie.
Sony wasn’t the first company to attempt to give life to an existing IP with no preconceived story. Just a few years ago we got Battleship and the Angry Birds movies which were both based off of story-less games. This problem can be found across all genres of film including horror but it seems to be most common with big budget animation. It’s easier to make these empty movies using animation. You just pick a topic or a game that people like, hire some voice actors, throw some darts at a board of story lines from other movies and you’re ready to create! I’m also not faulting people for attempting to find a story in a place where there isn’t one already. Maybe there is a really cool way a Hungry Hungry Hippos movie could be made but it takes time, money, and effort to create good content. Pixar is always the default when pointing out a good story in an animated film that manages to stay kid friendly while being equally cherished by adults. They don’t have a perfect track record but there’s a reason Inside Out was noted as a project where only Pixar could give emotions their own emotions. I mean they managed to take the topic of Cars and give it an interesting story, basic, but still complete and well executed (not talking about Cars 2.) Another reason it’s tricky to make movies about trends is the fact that their popularity usually doesn’t last. With the exception of Pokemon, and few others, most trends die out after a few months to at most a few years. Fidget spinners for example are all the rage right now and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was announced tomorrow that someone was going to make a fidget spinner movie.
I can see it now… “Fidget” the horror movie about killer Fidget spinners. Maybe it’ll have a cool tagline like… “This year, the hottest trend will be staying alive." It could be about a group of high schoolers who ditch class one day so they can go party in the woods. One of the couples sneak off behind this old cabin to make out, when suddenly, the girl falls though a cellar door. Inside the basement she finds an old wooden box with a pentagram and a strange three pointed symbol burned into it. She opens the box and the lights go out, the air goes cold and she hears a faint whisper in the back of her mind. Inside the box is a strange three pointed device made of bone with a pentagram carved in the center. She picks it up and notices the three points pivot freely around the center. She pinches the device and gives it a spin. Right then her boyfriend drops into the cellar to see if she’s ok (queue jump scare.) The girl shows her boyfriend what she found and he grabs the box. He looks inside and finds a scroll that the girl had missed. He opens it up and reads it. It says something like… “Whoever spins the Fidget must sacrifice three loved ones, or they will remain trapped in eternal hell fire.” At first the girl shrugs it off as a prank but then her body slowly starts to deteriorate. One day she’s texting and driving in a car with her younger sister and they get in an accident. Her sister dies and even though she’s mournful, she notices that she feels a lot better. She realizes the curse is real and struggles with the decision of having to kill two more people she loves.
Now I wrote that in about five minutes and I’m confident it could be made into a real film considering the standards of storytelling as they exist today. While the premise is passable, it’s still not good. I’ve seen that movie before, dozens and dozens of times (Have you seen Wish Upon Yet?) Even if my fidget movie got made, after the studio checks all the boxes, starts production, edits and launches their movie... fidget spinners will (hopefully) be dethroned and replaced by something else. Just because these movies can get made doesn’t mean they should. JJ Abrams actually did a Ted Talk about how accessible film making is to indie developers now, and how this allows people to pursue their on projects much easier. Click here to see his full talk.
The future of lifeless films doesn’t seem to be any less prevalent. Hasbro and Lionsgate are slated to be releasing a Monopoly Origins movie in the near future and Ridley Scott has been rumored to be directing it. The Tetris movie TRILOGY is in production with the film maker who brought us Mortal Kombat at the wheel. Fruit Ninja, Temple Run, Hot Wheels and Centipede are also slated to have movies released in the next few years. This just seems absurd to me. While I trust(ed) Ridley Scott as a film maker, I don’t see a Monopoly game origins story being that interesting. Even if you are able to craft this amazing story about the complexities of the housing market and back stabbing real-estate tycoons, why does it have to be a MONOPOLY movie? Those cross promotion restrictions will just limit the creativity of the writers because the story will have to be simple enough to sell more games. Hot Wheels I could see being a fun movie but we already have the Fast and the Furious, and Speed Racer was a terrible live-action adaptation (if they decided to go more cartoony.) The faults of past projects shouldn’t stunt the potential of future films but their failures don’t instill any confidence in me. FRUIT NINJA!?! ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I’ve seen my friends cut fruit with swords after having a few beers and while that’s good for a few laughs, I don’t think I’d give them 6 months, 100 million dollars, and my undivided attention to watch a two hour video of it. The bad story dilemma can also be attributed to great film makers who wanna try to squeeze a little more dollar juice out of their past successes. This is what’s happening with the Alien franchise and James Cameron’s slate of future Avatar films that I have very little excitement for. The world is full of amazing story tellers and people like JK Rowling can still be found if franchises are your main goal. Primer is a great example of something profound that was forged with a budget of $7,000 US. They had a good idea and they worked to bring that story to the masses. I think people forget that they vote with their dollar. They feel like their only option for a summer blockbuster is the 17th Transformers movie but they don’t need to see it just because it’s there. Support smaller studios, do your research, don’t see the Emoji Movie and can we please stop with the Minions?