I love Halloween. It’s the perfect excuse to consume irrational amounts of candy and binge-watch scary movies. And although I’m aware that the horror genre didn’t earn its loyal following for being rational, I am constantly amazed at the total lack of working phones when shit hits the fan.
If ever there was a moment when a useable phone would come in handy, it’s at the climax of every horror film ever created. But then again, if every horror film let the protagonist call for help, where’s the horror? Here, I’ve put together the top 5 scary movies that made me say, “Gee, it sure would’ve helped if they’d had a working phone.”
#5 Jaws (1975)
Honestly, this whole movie was one long string of bad luck, but the moment when you’re screaming “COME ON” comes when the captain of the Orca, Quint, destroys the radio on his boat in a bizarre fit of rage before Brody can call in the Coast Guard for help. I mean, we all knew that this final three-man quest to hunt the great white shark wasn’t going to end in an ice cream social… but COME ON.
#4 The Strangers (2008)
I’m petitioning for this film to be renamed Phone Fail Compilation. Kristen and James, the victims of this bloodbath at the hands of three masked lunatics, just can’t catch a break. After a lovers’ quarrel, James leaves in his car to go blow off some steam (classic horror movie mistake). When the creepiness factor in the house starts to escalate, Kristen calls James on the landline but the line goes dead (fail #1). She then plugs in her dead mobile phone (fail #2) to charge, only for it to go completely missing moments later (fail #3). James returns to the house, but his cellphone is swiftly stolen from his car (fail #4) then reappears in the house with the battery taken out (fail #5). And then, just as Kristen makes her final bid for help on the ham radio in the shed out back, one of the intruders destroys it (fail #6). Just wow. Points for effort, you two.
#3 The Shining (1980)
Although there are some truly skin-crawling moments in this film, I think the most terrifying thing about it is the sheer isolation of the Torrance Family in the Overlook Hotel. And naturally, just as Jack begins to show symptoms of his swelling madness, poor Wendy discovers that the phone lines are down due to severe winter storms. She catches a quick conversation with a forest ranger on the radio, but Jack manages to sabotage that too before Wendy has a chance to report anything sinister. I’d say this is one of the more believable instances in a horror movie where the victim can’t ring for help. Kudos!
#2 Misery (1990)
Annie Wilkes is easily one of the most terrifying villains of all time. After a near-fatal car crash, famed novelist Paul Sheldon wakes to find himself bedridden in Annie’s home, where she introduces herself as his rescuer, and his “number one fan,” but explains that they’re snowed in by a blizzard. As the days pass by, Paul suspects that he is less Annie’s patient as he is her prisoner. Annie eventually loses her temper and announces that she never called Paul’s publisher or family to tell them of his whereabouts. When Paul manages to break out of his room, he finds her landline phone to be gutted and unusable. COME ON.
#1 Blair Witch Project (1999)
This movie messed people up. Poor Heather, Mike and Josh. They’re just young film students trying to produce a decent documentary about the notorious Blair Witch. But by day two of their expedition into the Burkittsville woods, they’re hopelessly lost. And soon, sinister forces begin terrorizing these miserable kids, driving them into a state of total breakdown. But this was 1999, people! You’re telling me that not ONE of these kids was among the 86 million+ mobile phone users in the United States at the time? Help me out here, folks. A simple phone call would’ve summoned the cavalry.
I guess the moral of this story is this: phones save lives.
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