The only explanation for why I put the movie Castle Rock on my Netflix list was my quest. I am forever in search of movies that are gloriously awful. I have given up on movies being good, and so have refined my taste. Very few make that grade. The movie must be awful while earnestly trying to legitimately please it’s audience as a “good” movie—one might describe the result as “unfortunate.” Bring It On: In It to Win It has been the most recent success in the category. Castle Rock is just bad. But I dedicate this blog entry to it because it is a shining example of the topic ‘o the day (see title).
The first thing that happens in movies that rarely happens in real life is dramatic repetition. Oh, yes…dramatic repetition. It’s like vocal italics for the attention-span deficient viewers. Castle Rock had dramatic repetition, yes…dramatic repetition.
The next item is the pause while fleeing. Using Castle Rock once again: Antonio, the illegal Gautamalan immigrant, is lost in the desert with the surly teenage girl-protagonist (whose name I don’t remember, so we’ll call her Surly for short). [Spoiler Alert!] Surly has been bitten by a poisonous snake, and Antonio is running for help when Surly’s rabid dog begins chasing him. Antonio is running (despite his gangrene-infected leg, which we’ll address in a moment). The rabid Alsatian is loping playfully (I mean menacingly) behind him, and gaining. Antonio is—wait, stopping, turning, looking…yep, Rabid the Dog is still chasing him. Antonio starts running again. Oddly, the dog does not then catch up, tackle Antonio to the ground, and bite his face off--but then, this is a family film.
I promised to get to the gangrene, didn’t I? Well, Antonio spends the majority of the movie limping (except when he makes his climactic run for help) because he cut his leg. Along their trek through vast scrub and nothingness, they encounter one item of interest: a dead rabbit being eaten by maggots. Surly comments: “My grandfather once told me maggots only eat dead flesh. They won’t eat living flesh.” You see where this is going? Yes. That’s right. Antonio gets gangrene, and Surly randomly knows the cure: “We need some way to get rid of the dead flesh…” But how? Wait! Yeah, that’s right—maggots! Antonio: “It burns! It burns!!” Maggots: “Mmmphgh.”
In the movies, this is called “set up and payoff.” In real life, it’s called coincidence, but most things we encounter, as you know, do not payoff. For example, yesterday I was tired of my usual bagel and cream cheese, so I swung by Publix for a muffin. But Publix doesn’t sell individual muffins, so I bought four. I ate one. (How many muffins did I have left?) I offered the remaining muffins to my coworkers--no takers. So I am having muffins for breakfast for the next few days. Pretty mundane.
But if my life were a movie, those three muffins would be set up. And here, I theorize, are the payoffs, depending on genre:
Romance: I share the muffins with a devastatingly handsome and eligible man I meet that day, we fall in love, and have blueberry muffin cake at our wedding.
Comedy: I share the muffins with a devastatingly handsome and eligible man I meet that day. His face blows up and he tells me, “Ehm ellergeec ew blooberreez!” We spend the evening in the emergency room.
Suspense: I am stalked by the Muffin Man, a serial killer who targets women who buy muffins. I don’t know why he’s trying to kill me until the police realize the connection between the victims.
Action: I'm an international spy, and each muffin contains a microchip that when united will activate a world-devastating weapon. One by one, my enemies steal my muffins. I must get them back, at any cost!
Horror: The muffins are full of maggots.
Drama: I give the muffins to a homeless woman, and we develop a bond that changes both our lives. But then she dies.
Mystery: I share the muffins, but they turn out to be poisoned. How? Why? And by who? (My money’s on Surly.)
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