Okay, I admit it: I missed a lot of films before we signed up for Netflix. We only went to movies or watched them on television when other things didn’t interfere, which was, obviously, seldom. I’m not going to apologize for our busy lives. However, I was surprised last week, when I barely posted my article about films with writers and three days later The Passive Voice carried an article listing ten. (Except THE WORDS, one of the two I named.)
One of the films, which PG quoted from Flavorpill, is the other one I mentioned, MISERY, from the novel by Stephen King. His hero writes romance novels, and I do too, so I couldn’t miss that one.
However, four of the others feature screenwriters - ADAPTATION, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS, BARTON FINK, and SUNSET BOULEVARD. I’m not a screenwriter, but from what I’ve read about the process, it involves working with other writers, which would drive my writer friends crazy. They prefer to write alone, thank you very much. Although a few, who once had collaborators, harbored murderous thoughts about their pen-partners before the duo broke up.
Which is what happens to the writers in those films. Instead of writers’ cramp, they get demons. Warning--spoilers ahead.
IN THE MOUTH OF MADNESS is about a horror novelist who goes too far trying to add realism to his work and goes crazy. In TENEBRAE, the author of crime novels goes crazy and kills people. SECRET WINDOW also has a writer protagonist who goes crazy and kills people. In SINISTER, a true-crime writer moves his family into a house where people were murdered, and this time the writer’s daughter goes crazy and kills people. THE DARK HALF features a former literary writer who switches to crime novels, thereby somehow unleashing the ghost of his twin brother (whom he had absorbed) who then comes alive and starts killing people. THE SHINING, also from a novel by Stephen King, is about a writer who--guess what?--goes crazy and tries to kill people.
Frankly, I doubt that reading such a list would deter someone from becoming a writer, because most writers--even crime or horror writers--are not like that at all. Moviegoers are smart enough to know all those movies are fiction, made up by writers who got bored sitting alone (even when surrounded by kittens and close to chocolate) and started to play “what if?”.
Although I also write mystery novels, I’m not worried I’ll go over the deep end, because I have a hobby that gets me away from the computer from time to time. I act in plays and sing in musicals. If you happen to be in Palm Desert, California, April 4-7, you can catch me singing a Stephen Sondheim (not Stephen King) song about love and marriage.
The Passive Voice