Word dropped into my InBox about “The Selling” a film making the festival circuit about the difficulties of trying to sell a haunted house. The trailer at least makes the film look like an enjoyable and amusing tale.
Watching the spritely actors cavort in this quite enjoyable trailer made me realize what stinks about most straight horror movies: wooden acting. Perhaps it comes from a reliance on special effects, that is, the external aspects of gore and spectacle, the kinds of things that can be “fixed in the mix” that is added in during post-production. Real acting — even the exagerated cariacatured comedic acting in the trailer — obviously takes place during production but the groundwork has to be laid firmly in pre-production, dare I say it, even before the script writing occurs. We so often hear — and are supposed to be amazed by — reports of films that were written in one booze-drenched weekend. Yawn. I want the story that is deep and mature like a well cellared wine. Creep me out during the movie, sure but keep me scared long after I’ve gone home. I know grown men who were afraid to take showers after seeing “Psycho.” I digress, of course. Critics will note that it’s far easier to get a laugh than to inspire genuine fear. Maybe. There are cheap laughs and cheap scares. The richer experience in both genres, I believe, depends upon deep characterization (not necessarily deep characters) and actors capable of depicting them.
“The Selling” looks to be a blast, like a well-done comedy-horror film that wasn’t afraid to do a little work.