I tried to watch the movie Stakeout (1987). I kept getting interrupted by the children in my neighborhood, but I did see the opening scene or two.

Richard Dreyfuss and Emilio Estevez play police detectives and they are chasing a criminal on the docks near some body of water. In the second or third scene Richard’s character has the suspect covered when Emilio’s character pulls up in a forklift and breaks the line of sight to the criminal.

During the this first part o f the movie I keep waiting for Richard’s character to ask Emilio’s character what he was doing on the forklift. Forklifts are not generally faster than people and starting one often requires specialized knowledge (like knowing the location of the safety interlock switch). It is very unlikely that the forklift would have aided in the arrest.

I mention this because I want to go see a movie today and there is a new horror flick out. I generally shun these shows because I have gotten really picky about the motivation of characters in movies. I want believable characters not characters which help move the plot to the next scene.

Emilio’s character in the scene above was a plot device, not a character. I find that in a lot of horror (and action) flicks. The writer uses the character to get to the next scene, not as a believable person who is motivated by and acts according to usual motivations.

For example, if I have power over you in a scene because I have a loaded Uzi and you have just your bare hands, I am just as powerful twenty feet from you as I am two feet from you. If I am the bad guy acting in my own self interest I do not need to be in the same camera shot as you. I can still intimidate you from the other side of the room (off camera). If I am a plot device for you to defeat the bad guy against all odds, then I have to be closer to you and I have to make some stupid mistake(s).

It is possible for it to happen to me. I can enjoy a movie if the action is fast-paced and the director/author/whatever can suspend my disbelief that this character would act in an unbelievable way. Rocky was like that. My belief that a fighter who has had the crap beat out of him could fight better than he could when he was fresh was suspended (in the first movie) because I wanted to him to win so bad.

Combine that with my Atheism and most horror movies are funny for all the wrong reasons. And that does not make a good movie. I like comedies, but mostly those which were intended to be funny or in which there was a mistake on the part of the producers (like a plane in a western). 21 looks like fun and Horton Hears a Who at 4:30pm. I’ll decide on the way.