Are CGI effects scary?

I’ve had this discussion with friends before: are computer generated characters and effects scary? Maybe it’s because I am a child of the 80’s and grew up on Nightmare on Elm Street, all the animatronics from Henson and the like, but CG doesn’t frighten me. Well, Jar Jar Binks frightens me, but that’s for an entirely different reason.
I guess when I see CG aliens or monsters, the first thing I do in my mind is judge their quality. Are they well put together, do they animate right, etc. I’m not being scared; I’m analyzing the creature.
Now, we have World War Z, the zombie novel-turned-movie. I have high hopes, because I love me a good zombie flick. I think my favorite zombie movie is the 90’s remake of Dawn of the Dead. It’s an uplifting experience to watch a zombie film because I can always think that no matter how bad my day was, at least I’m not a member of the walking undead who must feast upon the flesh of the living. So, I have that going for me.
The problem is that the zombies in this movie all appear to be CG, at least from what I see in the previews. They made the same mistake in I Am Legend. Well, that and leaving out all the deeper plot details that completely gave meaning to the dark seekers or whatever they were called. There was a completely untold story in that movie, which instead seemed to center on having us marvel at all the CG monsters crawling over Manhattan.
So I’m worried that World War Z won’t live up to my hopes because of those damn CG zombies. With a major motion picture budget, you’d think they could afford the extras and makeup needed to create a convincing zombie horde. The zombies aren’t scary. You want pants-crapping scary? Go watch an episode of The Walking Dead. Then you’ll know what it means to fear the zombie!
Speaking of books, I thought I’d mention what I’m reading right now. I’m writing a second young adult novel, and just like when I wrote my first, I’m doing research. Before I wrote my first YA novel, I read Little Brother, The Hunger Games (before it was a movie and popular to make such a claim) and a few others. My 8 year old has read Percy Jackson, How to Train Your Dragon, and half the Harry Potter series, so he’s giving me tips as well.
It was hard to decide exactly how to write for young adults at first. It’s not as thought you just dumb down an ‘adult’ book; that’s an insult to the intelligence of a tween or teen. Finally, I realized that I just had to make the characters accessible to them. I did this by dredging up all the things I sucked at when I was that age. You have them talk casually, not as formal sounding as an adult. They deal with issues like adults not trusting them, learning to deal with the opposite sex, etc.
So, now I’m reading John Marsden’s Tomorrow series. The first book is called Tomorrow, When the War Began. Think ‘Red Dawn’, in Australia, in the mid 1990s. It’s about a bunch of high school friends who go camping, and when they get back into town, everyone’s been rounded up and captured by an invading army. The army is never identified; it’s about these friends and how they deal with the invasion and the aftermath. I’m really enjoying it so far, and am eager to finish the series.
I try to learn from the books I’ve read as I write my own, and hopefully am a better writer for it. And now, on to my own book about a high school kid who realized his parents neglected to tell him that, while he is human like the rest of us, he was actually born on another planet and his family is now hiding on Earth. Oops.
Our kids are still asleep, so I have at least 10 minutes to write before I have to begin making breakfast!
Have a great weekend everyone!

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2 responses to “Are CGI effects scary?”

  1. Rob Pucel says :

    Ryan…I could not agree more. “I Am Legend” is one of my all time favorite stories, and when I saw the movie adaption starring Will Smith…..sigh. I just don’t get it….”The Dark Crystal”, “An American Werewolf In London”, “The Howling”, the assembly of creatures in the cantina scene in “Star Wars”…..and don’t get me started on “Fright Night”….hahaha. I sure do miss seeing “Special Make-Up Effects By…..” during movie credits.

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