In the days before the internet, people had to be a bit creative with spoilers. Like the tale of someone who stood outside the cinema when The Usual Suspects was playing, pointed to one of the characters on the poster – I’m still a bit wary of mentioning the obvious myself – and loudly announcing to the queue of people waiting patiently to see the film, “IT’S HIM!”
These days, it’s much easier for people to ruin things for others. Take the case of Sony’s PS3 hit Heavy Rain, wherein the identity of the game’s Origami Killer remained a closely-guarded secret until, ooh, a week or so before the game’s general release, when a GameTrailers user decided to change his name to “[CENSORED] is Origami”. Naturally, he was banned, but not before the offending words had been plastered across prominent sections of the site, no doubt causing said peon to spend many long hours snickering into his Cheetos at this work of evil genius.
Still, you kind of expect it from the average interweb bellend. Not so your professional critics, though their words can often be even more ruinous. As someone with a keen interest in cinema, I have a subscription to Empire magazine – albeit only until tomorrow morning, whereupon I’ll be cancelling my standing order because reviewer Kim Newman decided he’d like to spoil the main twist in Martin Scorsese thriller Shutter Island. In this case, it wasn’t a blindingly obvious so-here’s-the-twist giveaway in the review text, but a strong hint towards a fairly transparent clue in the review prologue. Either way: totally unnecessary.
A good writer would have avoided even the mention of a twist, which is another thing that rankles: when you know a film has a twist, it’s hard not to spend most of your time trying to work out what it could be, and invariably making it a less enjoyable viewing experience in the process. A skilful writer could surely write an appraisal of a film without mentioning the presence of a twist, or the publication in question could make sure any spoilers were clearly labelled so the reader would know to avoid it. Why should I have to avoid reading about films just to ensure I go into the cinema without any foreknowledge of significant revelations?
Scorsese’s next was a film I was planning to see when it goes on general release in around ten days’ time, but I’m less likely to enjoy it as much while being acutely aware of where the plot’s headed. Perhaps in the case of all future literary adaptations I should just read the book in advance; at least that way I can enjoy any twists as part of the story rather than a critique of the same.
Oh, and just to pour salt in an already raw wound, the DVD round-up makes a smug, throwaway reference to the uncredited celebrity cameo in Zombieland. Thanks, Empire. You’ve just lost yourself a regular reader.