Cinema Paradouche-o (or How to Behave in the Movie Theater)

So I’ve been to the movies twice this week (to see IT and MOTHER!, both of which were excellent), but both occasions were marred by the behavior of other people in the theater. Now I’ve bitched about this before, but not often, because such instances weren’t all that common. This no longer seems to be the case. I’m absolutely expecting some of you to defend disruptive behavior in movie theaters because, well, someone always does, and that’s pretty much where we are as a society now.

“People should be allowed to check their phones during a movie.”

No, they really shouldn’t. That’s why there’s a giant notice to that effect on the screen before every movie. I’m not paying $20 to see a movie I’ve been looking forward to for an age just so I can be forced against my will to have my attention drawn to your phone because your bae wants to know where the bong is or because your child exploded in Target.

godupdates strangers help screaming woman in grocery store fb

“I don’t care that you’re at the movie theater. Billy’s like, spread across three aisles!”


During IT, the woman sitting right next to me had some weird, blinding stroboscopic light on her phone that went off every ten minutes until she eventually left the theater an hour into the movie to take a call.

During MOTHER!, the woman (note, I didn’t say teen, because she was at least in her forties) seated right in front of me spent the entire running time of the movie scrolling through Facebook. Which meant that while I’m looking at the movie screen, I have this glowing white oblong of light right underneath it.

Solution? If you absolutely have to be on your phone during a movie, turn the brightness down. Way, way down.

godupdates strangers help screaming woman in grocery store fb2

Like, this much.

Back to IT: when the flash-phone lady wasn’t guiding ships through the fog with her fucking Samsung, she was talking loudly with her boyfriend. Now, it’s important to note that I’m not someone who complains often, and never in public. I don’t even send my food back if they mess it up at a restaurant.


“I ordered the onion rings, but whatevs.”

But this couple were so loud and so distracting, that I eventually asked them–politely–to keep it down. And they did, but not without the boyfriend glaring at me for the rest of the movie as if I’d asked him if his balls had a strobe light too.

During MOTHER! the women seated next to Facebook-phone lady decided to MST3K the movie about 30 mins in, right about the point they realized it wasn’t a jump scare movie. When they weren’t doing this, they were standing up and blocking the screen so that they could discuss what food everyone wanted from the concession stand.

And still, STILL there are people who defend this behavior, and as a result it’s now a pleasant surprise when a movie ISN’T disrupted by some scuttlefart with a cell addiction.

Talking in the theater

“What did you say about, Billy? Sorry, hun, there’s a bunch of quiet people being rude to me.”

It’s not about the variety of reasons you ABSOLUTELY OMG HAVE to have your cell phone with you (babysitters, relatives in need, 7 days since you watched that weird videotape in the cabin), rather it is, like so many of the issues affecting us today, about nothing more than common courtesy.

And we appear to be running low.

Turn off your phone, turn off your mouth, or stay at home. You have a wealth of entertainment options at your fingertips. There is no longer any excuse for you to ruin mine.

EDIT: A lot of you are suggesting weekday screenings as a way of avoiding this behavior. I saw IT at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, MOTHER! at 7 p.m. on Thursday.


Upcoming Work: 2015

Thought I’d post an update for those curious about what’s coming down the pike from me this year. Obviously this is assuming there are no delays, life-altering disasters, or collapsing publishers, but as of now this is how things stand…

Night Falls on Memory Lane
Kin 2

The Landlords

“The End of Us” — Better Weird: A Tribute to David B. Silva, Cemetery Dance Publicationsbetter weird
“I’m Not There” — Library of the Dead
“Stalled” — Shocklines: New Voices in Terror
“The Land of Sunshine” – Dark Screams Volume Five
“What Did You Do To Them, Mr. Donovan?” – Unannounced Anthology
“Untitled Round Robin Story with Ray Garton, Brian Freeman, Bev Vincent, and Richard Chizmar” – Cemetery Dance Publications
“Hoarder” – Blurring the Line
“Home” – Unannounced Anthology
“Down Here With Us” – The Lost Citadel
“Verdigris” – I Am the Abyss

Milestone: The Collected Stories (print edition)

“Dancing with Mr. Death” – October Dreams 2chizmar18

“How the Night Receives Them” (short) – Details TBA
“Let Me Go” (original short) – Details TBA
“Peekers” – Feature Film, Lionsgate Entertainment, Release Date TBA

“The Playwright” – Broadside Limited Release from Biting Dog Press

As always, I’ll update as more news becomes available…


THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is well worth your time. If you’d rather skip the rest of the review, there’s your verdict right there. It’s a rollercoaster-ride much like DRAG ME TO HELL, but also like that movie (and indeed both movies share the same cinematographer), it starts to fall apart if you give it too much thought. So if you’re the type who likes to avoid thinking and just enjoy the thrills, you’ll love it. Unfortunately, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS wants you to think that it’s a smart, cerebral horror fan’s film, which invites the kind of further scrutiny under which the film falls short.

You probably already know the setup, so I’ll keep it brief: Five college kids head off on a trip to a remote cabin somewhere in the mountains. Yep, been there, done that. But you haven’t, because almost from the outset it becomes clear that the kids are being manipulated by some kind of NASA or Black Ops-like organization who proceed to dump all manner of horrors upon our poor heroes. Zombies, ghouls, ghosts…oh my! The question becomes: why are they doing this? As the kids get bumped off one by one and the truth begins to emerge, we are treated to a whole host of nods to our favorite horror films while the very nature of horror is disseminated.

It’s an undeniably clever concept, one that was tackled just as effectively in SCREAM back in the 90s, and just like that movie, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS pokes fun at genre conventions while still managing to be respectful of its audience. Clearly Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Drew Goddard (Cloverfield) are horror fans, and they know what horror fans like. The problem, however, is that in lampooning horror tropes and analyzing what makes horror work, they forget to make the film scary. Sure, there are a couple of effective jump scares, but I found the main antagonists at the cabin disappointing and stale, especially considering the wealth of monstrosities revealed as available in the film’s Pandora’s Box.

The risk in making a film that studies genre cliches is that you have to employ them to explore them. So naturally, much of what we see here has been done a million times before. But that’s intentional. It’s when the movie shows us things we haven’t seen before that it gets exciting. A scene involving a dirt bike is worth mentioning, so is the Pandora’s Box sequence, as is damn near every scene with Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford in it. The dialogue is very, very funny at times, particularly in the scenes with Fran Kranz’s stoner. A cameo towards the end of the movie is a neat surprise too, though a more logical choice would have been Bruce Campbell.

And it’s towards the end that things begin to get a little shaky. The concept here is fine, as is the explanation for all that’s come before, and I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of a much-loved and criminally underused genre element, and yet in throwing everything at the canvas in the last twenty minutes, the film loses some of its charm and impact. CGI is employed to lackluster effect, characters who seemed destined to have more of an effect on proceedings are dispatched with nary a second thought, and the ending is…well, inaccurate would be how I would put it without delving into spoilerism.

Overall though, it’s a movie that sets out to be a fun experience, and in that it succeeds 100%. It’s a fun little satire that’s just not as clever as it wants you to think it is, and by the end, it runs out of steam, inexplicably pulling back a little from what could have been a masterpiece.

I’d give it an 8/10.