Friday, 1 February 2008

Clichés Can Still Be Deadly

Despite the fact I know that I have an imagination like a kid with ADHD who has gone off her meds and chugged an entire bottle of red cordial syrup, I persist in watching horror movies.
I know I really shouldn't because it inevitably ends with me shuffling about wearing a crucifix, purposefully cultivating a bout of garlic breath and wondering if there is anywhere nearby that offers classes in how to pilot helicopters, man a machine gun turret on a moving armoured vehicle or kill aliens with your thumb.
Despite all these things, I went and saw I Am Legend the other day and was struck by two things.
Firstly, Karen Healey over at Girls Read Comics is on to a winner with her 'What if Will Smith Was In It' movie game "where one thinks of a movie, and then imagines Will Smith in it, whereupon the movie is instantly improved".
Secondly, a quick assessment finds me to be worryingly vulnerable and chompworthy in the event of any major natural or supernatural disaster.

Let us consider the basics.
I can't run to catch a bus let alone to save myself, even though I can walk for hours at that annoyingly brisk pace that always has the people you're with asking you where the bloody fire is and assuming you aren't the wheezing out of shape wreck you actually are. If not quite power walking is enough to escape the hordes of undead I might last a short while.
I can't physically haul myself over or onto anything that is too high, making fire without the power of matches or a cigarette lighter would be an embarrassing trial and if I had to grow my own vegetables I would die of scurvy because I have a black belt in black thumb.
Of course the last point has strayed into the realm of long term survival concerns, which may be a bit ambitious. You need to survive the initial event before you have to worry about feeding yourself or the joys of dysentery and my initial point was that I probably wouldn't last long enough to worry about what's for dinner.

On the upside I am an inherently suspicious person.
Even a person who has never watched any horror movies should be suspicious of certain situations. Someone who has seen even a modest selection of horror movies will be specifically sensitive to key indicators. This doesn't necessarily offer a straightforward course of action for you to follow or guarantee your survival, especially as you may not know how you perform 'under pressure' until the moment comes.
I present for your consideration the following true life example.

I was the only person in the whole house (first warning sign: nobody about!) and had decided to indulge in a spot of post sunset hanging out of the washing (multiple boo boo: I'm outside! At night! Doing something domestic!), as you do, and whilst our Labrador frolicked at my feet (warning: cute pet! Cute pet!), covering my pants in a fine coat of blonde hairs, I noticed an odd noise just on the edge of hearing (Retreat! Retreat!)
A bit of peering around revealed it to be the tap down the back of the yard in the fenced off and overgrown dog area where no one ever goes (AWOOGA!!! AWOOGA!!!) dribbling in a persistent and wasteful manner.
'How odd!' I thought to myself, 'It wasn't doing that before. Oh well, I'll just go in and turn that off...' (WHAT!?) and then post-horror movie paranoia kicked in. I could almost hear my non-existent audience screaming DON'T GO IN THERE! RUN AWAY YOU IDIOT!

Reassessment: Unexplained, innocent seeming change in environment luring unsuspecting solitary girl down to the bottom of the garden.


There are a few ways I could play out this scenario.

Option #1: Open the gate and let the dog go in ahead of me
  • If anything is going to jump out immediately it would get the dog, allowing me to scream like an opera singer and run away.
  • If something happened to the dog I would feel like a complete bitch.
  • If the dog mysteriously disappeared (with or without that gut retching 'Arp!' noise) I would, being a big old idiot, go running after her and straight into a trap.

Option #2: Leave it
  • I wouldn't be going in and wouldn't get got down the bottom of the garden.
  • I could be leaving myself open to getting got later on, probably whilst I was in bed where I would inexplicably be wearing a silky negligee.
  • If there was in fact nothing 'suss'* going on I would feel like an idiot and a drought-exacerbator in the morning

Option #3: Man up and go in, clutching a weapon or two
  • I would feel like less of a wuss.
  • I might get an advance warning of whatever is trying to creep up on me wholesale.
  • I might get got, leaving the dog bouncing up and down barking excitedly but uselessly as my demise is reflected in her big brown eyes.

Option #4: Go in but take someone with you
  • I might have a better chance of survival via confusion or strength in numbers.
  • If they get got I might feel like a bastard (depending who they were).
  • Whilst I'm waiting for them to turn up I might get got.

After overthinking my options I took a variation of Options #1 and #4.
I went in with my dog whilst talking with my mother on my mobile** phone.
This makes me double wuss as I could have ended up with something happening to the dog, myself getting got and my poor mother having to listen to my grisly and protracted final bubbling sounds. But at least someone would know that something had happened and they could get right to the part where they send in a middle aged cop to investigate, he barely gets away with his life and then gets to fall in love with a glamorous lady biochemist who will then save the day. Or bits of it.
So already I have proved myself a crisis wussie and written myself into the role of 'Oh my God! She's dead!... That was so cool!' anonymous or unsympathetic/unimportant bit character.
I have not even the survival skillz to make myself the hero in my own half hypothetical situation.

From this tale of caution and woe you should take two simple lessons.
One: Always be prepared.
Two: If I ever ask you to take a walk with me down a dark garden path... you should probably take a raincheck.

*lit. suspicious (also weird/off colour/dodgy)
**it's mobile... you can carry it around with you... out in the world... come on, you know this one...

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