Ask anyone over a certain age what the scariest movie ever was, and they will probably tell you “The Exorcist.*” But if you’re under a certain age, and you see it, you’ll probably raise an eyebrow and wonder if you got the right DVD.
“That’s not so scary,” you think. At least, that’s what I thought when I saw it.
But then again, if you ask someone over a certain age what the scariest part of “Exorcist” was, they’ll tell you about Linda Blair spinning her head around and spewing pea soup. Disturbing, I’d imagine, if I wasn’t expecting it.
But I was expecting it, as were you if you’re in my generation.
There’s a hidden danger in making remakes. That is, they lose their potency because they lose their ability to surprise us. For a big hit movie, the shocking moments are disseminated through pop culture. As enjoyable as references are for movies we’ve already seen, they act as spoilers for the generation that follows. Thanks to Saturday morning cartoons, I knew Darth Vader was Luke Skywalker’s father long before I ever saw “Star Wars.”
Sometimes, a reference-turned-spoiler is okay. For example, “The Matrix” has been referenced and parodied a number of times, but only via the slow-motion bullet dodge and crane kick/jump. Those don’t give away the plot, and I’d imagine if someone grows up watching Matrix references and then sees the Matrix, they’ll recognize the move but probably won’t feel cheated.
Watching “Star Wars,” for the first time, I didn’t feel cheated, per se, but I could tell that something was missing. What should have been a major moment in the film was just a line I was anticipating. It didn’t move me. It was more like Samuel L Jackson’s expression of frustration at having snakes on his plane. Fun, but not epic.
*Warner Brothers, 1973.