Note: spoilers lie beyond.
I did enjoy the Spielberg/J.J. Abrams infusion Super 8 last weekend. It was a fun ride, the kids were cute, and I jumped a lot.
But like the Smoke Monster in Lost, the menace in Super 8 is so much more looming and terrifying before we actually see it or know what it is. Kind of like when the velociraptors kill that cow in Jurassic Park, another Spielberg creation.
The first two thirds of Super 8 put us right in the same frame of mind as the kids and townspeople in the movie. We don’t know what the heck is happening. We are jolted, disoriented, and even scared sitting in the theater.
A friend of mine has a relative who works at Paramount. He told me Abrams and the studio were in a big fight about showing the monster. Abrams wanted to keep the monster off screen; the studio wanted to show it.
Guess who won?
So towards the end of the movie we see the monster in an appropriately Spielberg-esque moment of understanding and reconciliation. But it’s so freaking literal, you half expect the darn thing to start petting the kid or start making a cute movie-monster noises.
I was bummed. Until that point, I really felt like a kid going to he movies again. Then we saw the monster and it looked like King Kong meets an Orc.
Granted this was better than Rick Baker in a gorilla suit in that King Kong remake from the ’80s. But the dark joy of low-budget movies like Paranormal Activity is all the terror inside your mind when you don’t see what is going on.
I hope Abrams gets to make a director’s recut for the DVD release without showing the monster. I would definitely pick that up, and I think it would be like watching a completely different movie.
Other than it was a fun night time amusement park ride. I just wish they hadn’t turned on the lights!