Monday, January 30, 2012

The horror! The horror! or The Devil Within Possessed Audience Members

Lately on the blogs, along with commentary about the 2011 movie year, I have read quite a few comments about the rude behavior of audience members and how it seems to be getting worse. On The SLIFR Movie Tree House conversations hosted by Dennis Cozzalio at Sergio Leone and the Infield Fly Rule a post by Jason Bellamy that refers to some disruption during a showing of The Tree of Life, and the comments section includes a number of comments by Craig about the behaviors of various moviegoing Philistines. On Twitter, Jason chalked up The Grey as his first viewing of 2012, but he unfortunately had to chalk up five rude texters.

Yes, the horrors perpetrated by audience members abound, and during my first viewing of 2012, I ran into one of my worst experiences with moviegoing demons, though I blame nobody but myself for my choice of film and time: the late showing of The Devil Within on opening night.

Well might you wonder what possessed me to do such a thing. First of all, a colleague had piqued my interest in the movie when he said he had read good things about it. Then, that Friday, I had to chaperone a school dance, my least favorite duty. My early shift over, I needed to see a movie as an antidote to loud music chosen by middle-schoolers, so I thought I’d take in a 9:30 show. Expecting the late show to be less frequented, I was surprised to find the ticket line packed, and as I entered the cinema in a steady stream of people, I found nearly every seat occupied in the huge stadium theater. Other horror movies I had seen last year had been very sparsely attended. “Is this supposed to be a good movie?” I asked someone entering next to me. “Yeah,” he said.

I found a seat up in the back. A couple of seats to my left, the 20-something woman in the row behind had her entire foot wedged in between two seat backs. Since said foot resided a few seats away, I opted for letting it alone. Then a couple came in and asked me to move down so that they could sit together, which I did, but this put my head right next to the big foot.

“Could you please take your foot down?” I asked. I gave her time. Nothing happened. I stood and asked again. She seemed to shrink back into her seat. I thought I might be getting somewhere until I saw her middle finger resting next to her nose. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that form of flipping one off. Is it a more tentative version? Does it suggest a modicum of reluctance on the part of the flipper-offer? I have no idea. After waiting long enough to show her friends she wasn’t really giving in to me, the young woman took her foot down. Still, I decided I’d rather suffer a seat down below nearer to the screen than sit in front of big foot.

So I ventured to the nether regions and took the first seat on the end of the last row of groundling seats, about six rows from the screen. At least I had the crossing aisle behind me, no chance of feet rumbling my seat, and I even had an empty seat on my right. Lights went down, previews, movie starts, and an early-20s woman takes the empty seat. Out comes the cell phone. Man, those things give off a lot of light. She might as well have had a 19-inch portable television resting in her lap. “Could you please turn that thing off?” My bad. Wrong terminology. Should have just asked her to keep her screen closed. She turned to me, her voice gravely stricken, as though I had propositioned her for sex, and she says, in a victimized tone, “I’m NOT going to turn it off (last word pronounced as two syllables)!”

Good God! I watched the movie. Darn! It turned out to be one of those shaky camcorder movies. But there were some elements that kept me watching. Some good acting. Vatican City locations. An interesting priest who rebelliously conducts exorcisms on supposedly possessed victims the Church has rejected as legitimate cases. Not that scary for a B-horror movie veteran, but being a lapsed Catholic, I still have a fascination for exorcism, and I'm not ready to assert that demonic possession is a myth. Loved the hypocrisy of Miss Bright Screen next to me (she was still checking her Tweets) during a scene in which a possessed girl twists her body into impossible contortions. (Image above.) Guy behind us yells, “I’d fuck her!” With irony only I could really appreciate, Miss Bright Screen turns and yells back, “Jeezus, that’s disgusting. Would you be quiet!” As if! Felt like commiserating with her. “Jeez, wasn’t that guy rude!”

After enduring all this, I was in all the way. I’d wasted a Regal Cinemas free movie pass on this thing, so what the hell. I put an end to Miss Bright Screen's Tweeting by leaning over and looking at her screen while she was reading her messages, and she eventually put the thing away. I was enjoying myself now. In the movie, a woman is possessed by multiple demons that leap out and possess the priests trying to perform the exorcism. It seemed as though the demons had leaped out and possessed most everyone in the theater too.

Somebody’s phone vibrated. The owner of this phone came down the steps behind us, but he stopped in the hallway leading to the exits, took the call, and chatted while watching the movie. By that time I could only laugh. As it was, the sound of demons growling “The pig is mine” were loud enough to drown out his conversation.

No comments: