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The Wildcat Tribune

The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.

The Wildcat Tribune

The official student news site of Dougherty Valley High School.

The Wildcat Tribune

Horror Season 2023: Month of Horror ends with frighteningly underwhelming finish

The new “The Exorcist: Believer” film’s poor script undermines its unique concept of dual possession.

*spoilers ahead*

With the month of horror comes the true spectacles of the season: horror movies. From new entries in controversial franchises to real-life adaptations, they’re all missing the elements that made the original incidents and franchises so eerie. This year’s month of fright provides a lack of film quantity compared to previous years, and the quality certainly doesn’t make up for it.

With Blumhouse recently purchasing the rights to the franchise, “The Exorcist: Believer” completely misses the mark, both failing as a trilogy kickstarter and as a recent entry that falls flat on its unique dynamic. For the entire first act, there was a lack of character interaction between cast members and the two protagonists, Katherine (Olivia O’Neill) and Angela (Lidya Jewett). This led to the audience not being incentivized to care about them, and with no action going on, the film delivers a ridiculously boring opener.

After a mediocre first act, Katherine and Angela go into a nearby forest to “talk” to Katherine’s deceased mother only to come out synchronously possessed. The film’s idea of dual demonic possession is a unique concept but wastes its potential as the film only focuses on Katherine’s side family. This concept provides the challenge of trying to balance the audience’s attention on both characters, and since it seemed as if the writers just slapped on another set of characters that provided nothing to progress the plot, it ruined the point of this being, well, a dual possession. The only moment where the dual-possession concept was executed well was during the climax, where the parents of both families had to choose which girl to save from the demon.  Despite this, the decision didn’t matter anyway, since the demon never planned to save either hostage and it was up to each of the parents’ actions to save their kids anyways. To top it all off, many scenes were very apparently off-lip-dubbed, ruining the immersion in many scenes that were originally frightening.

“Dear David” was another horror movie this month that failed to meet this people’s expectations.

It wasn’t the failed plot execution that led to [Dear David’s] downfall – rather, the movie took a wrong approach to the story entirely.

“Dear David” was based on a real Twitter thread from Adam Ellis, an illustrator and blogger. His threads from 2017 depicted what he described as “being haunted by the ghost of a dead child” and how it was trying to kill him, detailing a number of encounters ranging from his cats standing at his front door every midnight to having vivid sleep paralysis dreams of encounters with said ghost. What made this thread so frightening was not only the pictures and videos he posted as evidence to his claims, but also the sense of confinement within his tweets: Twitter’s character cap at the time only allowed him to send out brief, eerie messages about his circumstances, and they were all contained to his apartment room, creating a claustrophobic reading atmosphere for viewers to experience.

The movie does incorporate the majority of what the tweets depicted. However, it lacked the feeling of being “trapped with the monster.” Adam is seen leisurely walking around the city outside of his apartment and chatting with a multitude of people, alluding to his opportunities to escape this horror. This breaks the sense of immediate and suffocating threat that the real story emulated. Although there were multiple scenes that evoked the common frights that are typically incorporated into these types of films, they aren’t executed well in “Dear David”, and the shaky, sped-up camera movement only draws audiences out of the scare.

However, in contrast to the previous two films, a spark of brilliance came with the release of the long-anticipated “Saw X,” as it took a step back to what made the “Saw” franchise so beloved in the first place. With Tobin Bell, yet again, reprising his role as Jigsaw and with the film coming out just two days before October, the film’s details another plot revolving around gruesome, repent-based traps for kidnapped criminals. However, the franchise finally returns to its roots, keeping the focus solely on the trap rooms and hostages rather than the action outside. Subplots outside the trap rooms distracted from the small and frightening worlds of the traps themselves, so it was refreshing to not include them again after so many years.

The set designers also did a phenomenal job with new traps like the eye trap and Mateo’s trap, both of which provided the classic brutality that the franchise was renowned for. This addition also brought different outcomes to each trap other than the unoriginal “you lose, you die” aspect that plagued most of the recent “Saw” entries. “Saw X” was the direct sequel to the first film, and it finally answered many questions that made other entries in the series, like “Saw 5” and “Saw 6,” feel complete.

Overall, the 2023 horror season was more or less a disappointment. “The Exorcist: Believer” missed the opportunity to bring new light to the rebooted franchise through its unique premise. “Dear David” missed the key aspect that made the real story so memorable: the sense of feeling trapped. “Saw X” was the shining star this month, going back to its roots and giving the audience exactly what the franchise started with: unique predicaments and traps used on people that deserved them. Still, it’s troubling to see ongoing horror franchises struggle to keep up with the current movie climate, leaving many horror fans to wonder if horror is falling along with the recent downward trend of the movie industry as a whole.

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About the Contributor
Leo Xiao
Leo Xiao, Staff Writer
Leo joined the Tribune because he likes the people there and covering stories is pretty fun for him. He took J1 last year, and his goal for this year is to try covering clubs in mini-sections of the newspaper, as he finds it cool to promote more aspects of Dougherty Valley. In his free time, Leo enjoys playing violin, Smash Bros Ultimate and League of Legends. If he could be anyone else on the tribune, he'd be Ella for no particular reason.

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