No matter the genre of film, digital effects impact our viewing experience. We can’t dodge it. I got a good laugh when Stephen King’s gripe on digital effects had to do with the Fat Albert film…as if practical effects could’ve saved it. For the horror genre especially, suspension of disbelief matters, since we need to be fully immersed for the scares to work. We can laugh off poor effects in a comedy, but not many other places. Would we have liked Scanners if the popping head wasn’t an actual prop being blown up, shooting heavy chunks of gore everywhere? I’d imagine not. It especially would’ve flopped as a 3D movie with brain matter distractingly imposed to fly directly at the screen. Ick.
At the risk of sounding like an old kook, digital effects reign too high in film. There are times they ARE appropriate, which is whenever a practical effect can’t do the trick convincingly. Remember, the decapitated head spider in The Thing (1982) was a practical effect, so a lot can be pulled off with a bit of latex and a lot of time. If the time isn’t there and it’s fiscally responsible, by all means, go digital – if and only if it doesn’t look digital in the final product. No one ever needs to know a computerized effect was used. But truly, when directors decide to use digital blood rather than realistic just because they don’t want to take 15 minutes to let the fx guys in to place some squibs, it’s sad…and often a waste of funds.
My opinion isn’t digital is bad. The first Resident Evil film had a digital monster called a licker, which it made sense to include, because it would’ve been a massive chore to have something like that walk along a train car, tearing up the railing and eating people – all without the help of computer technology. Still, they used prosthetics when it was an up-close battle. It tried to blend both kinds of effects, and did a solid job for the decade it was made.
What do you, reader, think of such effects?
Matthew Scott Surprenant's personal blog and bookstore can be found http://matthewscottauthor.wordpress.com .