Friday, 30 March 2012

Genre Talk: Genre Lines and Storytelling

So my Bear took me out on a little date tonight. We went to the movies and watched Underworld: Awakening. We figured it was in the cheap theaters and I hadn't seen it yet, so why not? I watched this movie while eating a box of nachos, cuddling my Bear and thought to myself, "Damn, this movie is as cheesy as my nacho cheese dip! And just as shiny! It's seriously Velveeta cheese with Kate Beckinsale's ass on the side!"

Look TWO guns! 
Not to say it's wrong to love Velveeta cheese. I'm sure the nacho cheese I enjoyed was about the same quality. Cheese is yummy. But Underworld: Awakening, like most of the series so far, isn't a horror series. It's campy, it's fun, it's full of a sexy vamp fighting werewolves, vampires and humans, but it's not horror. And I admit it, I went purely to see Kate Beckinsale in PVC blasting shit to pieces. Underworld is one of the few series out there where the women is doing the saving. I love that about it.

Be ready for many pictures of Kate with guns. Why? Because  that's mostly what she does in the movie.

One of the things I hate is how people market certain things as horror just because they have horror movie tropes in them. It happens all the time. I see it on book covers, movies and comics. Just because something has a monster in it, doesn't make it instantly horror. And while horror is where these tropes come from, they have the right to evolve into other genres.

Noticing a trend here?
I wrote a post about the differences between horror and dark fiction already, so I won't beat a dead horse here. And I'm not trying to be elitist (okay maybe I am a little...), but I do think genres should be respected. I don't think you should just slap titles on shit lazily like the entertainment industry does. It gives people the wrong impression of what they are getting into. Yes, Underworld has vampires, werewolves and violence.  But it's an action flick. It really is. All there is to the entire story is watching Kate Beckinsale kick ass and take names. And sure, it was highly entertaining to watch. But it wasn't scary, wasn't horrific and hell, it wasn't even made to feel like it belonged in the horror genre.

Aw, she lost her other gun. Poor thing...
Another thing that the movie failed in was storytelling. It took a premise that could have been interesting, hell, HAS been done before and much better, and it half-assed it. Having humans find out about supernaturals is a cool premise. One movie that it reminded me of was Daybreakers, which did it from a different angle but did it well. It was just as gory, just as action packed, but it was horror. It stayed within the realm of horror because it made the premise something disturbing. In Daybreakers, vampires rule humans. They didn't cheap out on this, or use it solely as a reason to have their main character kill ALL THE THINGS. They explored it some, and showed us the terrible implications of a world populated by vampires.

These vamps from Daybreakers are much creeper than the lycans in Underworld. Believe me.
Underworld: Awakening could have been something more. Of course, I didn't expect it to be anything other than what it was. The franchise has never dared to be anything other then action-packed fluff. I would like to see another movie do the premise of humans finding out about supernaturals, and then ruling over the supernatural world. It's a cool concept that could be very horrific if done right. At the very least, I got all the nacho-pvc-clad ass I could possibly want. So it wasn't a complete waste of time. *wink*

This scene alone was worth seeing. Yum. Naked Kate. The only picture I could find of her NOT holding a gun.


  1. agree with you. 1-3 were all extremely entertaining, inventive and badass. Part 4 was just lame and boring. Even Beckinsale was meh. NOT intersted in any more Underworlds.

  2. Mmmm, Kate Beckinsale's ass with Velveeta...
    But seriously, I see your point- 'monsters' does not equal 'horror'. I mean, the upcoming Hotel Transylvania (seriously, Adam Sandler as Dracula?!) has vampires and werewolves, AND mummies, AND Frankenstein's monster, but it could hardly be called a horror. (Argumentum ad absurdum, I know, but it illustrates the point.)

  3. Here's a monkey wrench to throw into the whole "genres should be respected" thing: where do you draw the line between a horror movie and a "thriller." I tend to stay away from "thrillers" simply because it smacks of horror lite. At the same time plenty of good horror movies have been marketed as thrillers so as not to scare off the squares.

    But I do agree with you. The Underworld movies are not horror, nor are the Resident Evil movies. They're horror-themed action films. But I still put them on the same shelf as my horror DVDs. And yes, they're fluffy confections. And yes, I love them.

    My real point of contention with your article: Kate Beckinsale's ass is never a side dish, but always the main course.


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