As I’ve said before, I love dark films and I doubt I’m alone. There is a theory, out in the ether of the studios, that no one wants to see dark films, so dark films don’t make money. Now, I know a lot of people – people I generally like and respect – who won’t go see a film if they think it might upset them. They go for escapism, I suppose, or uplift, or, if I’m less generous, sentimental crap. It’s hard not to have contempt for these people and their love of the vacuous. They watch this shit and then wonder why Sarah Palin gets to be who she is.
There are some genres that are entirely off-limits to these people, and the big one is horror. Horror is as dark as it gets, and yet, it makes money. Boatloads of money. Anyone who likes movies likes a good horror movie because horror people love movies. Horror movies (the good ones) are cinematically interesting; you can watch them again and again. And they can be dark and fun.
People forget that it’s fun to scared, or disturbed, or taken somewhere you wouldn’t normally go. That’s what drama is. It’s just as fun to watch Liz Taylor and Richard Burton fight it out in Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf . That’s not a happy movie, but it’s a pleasure to watch it.
The Dark Knight was pretty dark and it made a ton of money. In Titanic, Leo died, and that still made a ton of money. Precious looks like it’s doing pretty well, and no one’s told me that it has a happy ending. The thing is that dark films do pretty well. There are, however, dark films that give the others a bad name. I call these the miserable films. These are the ones that revolve around a funeral, or a suicide, where the characters are sincere and humorless. These films get high praise at Sundance, but no one goes to see them and who can blame them. On top of being pity-fests, they’re usually not that good. I mean, who wants to see that actor crying because his life sucks. It may be a great performance, but it’s not much a story.
I blame these miserable films for doing a lot of damage. That. and the permanent California sunshine which makes everyone in LA happy and humorless. Because of this, dark films have a hard time getting made.