Wednesday, 7 May 2014

It's all in the timing

The Walking Dead scares me to death. Nightmares. Running to the bathroom in the night. Don’t glance at the mirror in the dark (well, you don’t know who’s looking back).

How? Why?

I know it’s about zombies. They are everywhere all the time – a constant in the show. Yet, I jump, scream and hide behind my fingers like a five year old seeing a Dalek for the first time. The camera zooms in for the close-up in the eerily quiet empty place – zombie swoops in –I jump out of my skin. Every time.

It scares me so much I have considered simply not watching it. No can do. I need to know the next bit of the story. I need to know who lives. I am addicted.

CUT TO hubs saying, “There’s that English zombie thing on telly tonight. Second series. Maybe it’s good. Want to watch it?”

“No,” I say, “they look too much like the Exorcist. Can’t do it.” (That’s another story…)

We watch another drama, but the zombies are playing on my mind, my imagination, my addiction?? 
As our programme finishes, I say, “Well, maybe let’s watch ten minutes and see how it goes.”
And we did.

I wasn’t remotely scared. Not even when the fully-blown zombies attacked and ate people. So here’s the question: given my viewing history, why not scared?

The first answer: In the Flesh is The Walking Dead meets Eastenders. Hubs sings the tune, ‘da, da, da, da, da, da, aaaargh!’ Beloved Aspie has joined the conversation, “Surely that’s no different from the normal Eastenders?” (In fact the next morning he tells me in his considered opinion that they have merely over-humanised the zombies, hence not scary.) 

What it is really about is timing: how the script writer draws you in and catches you out. Done right – you’re on the edge of your seat. Done wrong – the thrill never comes.

Compare to a somewhat corny movie on the same evening, White Girls. Two black detectives go under cover as white women to catch a kidnapper. Painful and obvious. But…even though the plot is transparent and I can speak the next line before the actor, it is so well timed that you still find yourself laughing at the jokes.

Timing (and no doubt, good camera work) will keep me thinking for a while yet. I’m puzzling over how to be mindful of it in my writing of longer pieces. I’ll leave you with this.

Next day, BA and I are out for a walk in the woods and a visit to a National Trust place. We get back to horror movies and the Blair Witch project (another that got nothing from me). I return to In The Flesh, describing the scene where the woman is out in the silent garden calling for her cat in the dark, no cat coming, but of course you know what is…rabid zombie from nowhere is on her like a flash. Did I jump? No.

BA replies, “ you didn’t tell me about the rabbits.”