84 - Grotesque (1988) Blairvember 2017
There are movies built on ideas that sound so great in theory and simply fall apart upon execution; Grotesque is a movie that fits that mold.
Writing a movie is hard and making one is even harder. If you’ve never tried to create a film from conception to completion you can never appreciate how stupidly difficult it is to get this art form right. The biggest obstacle for a screenwriter is not the beginning or the end, it’s the middle, and the second act of Grotesque is where this movie completely falls apart.
There are ideas presented in Grotesque that could truly make for a good horror film but the hands that made it aren’t the hands it needed. It’s not worth mentioning the twists and turns because it’s better you witness them yourself. Without going into specific details we can still examine this movie and see exactly where things go wrong in the filmmaking process.
As a filmmaker and a screenwriter, it’s always easy to come up with an idea or a twist to a story that makes an audience interested. Holding their attention and having that twist or plot device pay off is a challenge only a few are prepared to tackle. Grotesque sets up an interesting world and a fresh direction, something you can truly say is unique and unexpected, then it just wanders around until it loses steam and tries something different.
Sometimes a new direction can save a movie, sometimes it ends up feeling like the filmmakers simply couldn’t make up their minds. When Norman Bates kills Marion Crane 47 minutes into Psycho, the direction of the film changes dramatically; and it works. Clearly influenced by this device, Grotesque attempts to do the same, but then does it again, and again, and again until the twists and turns become comical in lieu of powerful.
The only thing worse than making a bad movie is then trying to “wink” at the audience and let them know that you’re in on the joke and it was always intended to suck. As if shrugging your shoulders and blaming your audience is a solution for your hackneyed work. Grotesque does this by the end of the film and it’s so laughably bad that you can’t help but smile at their attempt to blame horror audiences for the contrite nature of the film.
The ultimate sin in filmmaking is insulting your audience, and Grotesque does that extremely well.