Why we root for monsters

Posted: October 28, 2010 in All, Horror
Tags: , , ,

A giant bug-like slimeball drops from the ceiling. Two people manage to flee, listening to the screams of their friend and a horrible crunching sound.

Why do we like monsters more than the people they chew on?

Monsters are usually the same in every movie: mindless eating machines. Soulless killers. In fact, that’s become such a cliche that we expect nothing but that.

So much work is done by the creative team to make sure that the monster is original looking. That the special effects are believable. That its origin and intentions make (some kind of) sense.

Yet not so much care is taken with the victims. I’m not saying that every piece of fodder should be a fully fleshed character. But at the very least, the hero should be held to the same standards as the villain. The protagonist must be original. Believable. His past and intentions should make sense.

Monster movies have become formulaic because the conflict is forced. It’s man versus monster, and it doesn’t matter who the man is.

There are only two plots in super hero comics, and I’ll apply that to this. 1: Villain wants to do something and the hero gets in the way. 2: Hero wants to do something and the villain gets in the way. This second one is always better, but harder to do.

Honestly, I’d be surprised to find a story where the protagonist has the goal and the monster is getting in the way of the goal. But I see that as a challenge to movie makers.

Additionally, I’d like to see a challenge to the idea of all monsters being mindless killing machines. Considering Frankenstein’s monster wasn’t one, and he’s one of the earliest monsters, I think it can be done.

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