Dawn Of The Dead Cell Phone
by Tim Moran
This is one of those things about the times we live in that is so obvious after you hear about it. An article on NPR.org by Beth Accomando, "In Horror Flicks, The Cell Phone Always Dies First," points out that the ubiquity of the cell phone has created a cinematic conundrum that Hitchcock, Craven and Carpenter didn't have to deal with: "If teens in peril can just pull out their phones to call for help, the scary movie just isn't as scary. The result is a new horror movie truism: Cell phones only work until Freddy or Jason show up."
If the scary movie wants to stay scary, it's absolutely necessary to have the intended victim's cell phone disabled--one way or another. It turns out that there are four basic ways in which screenwriters and directors have come to handle this: no signal; limited cell phone battery life; "Whoops! I dropped my phone in the toilet, pool, sink. . ."; or plan terminated by the killer (you have to read the article to get this last one).
But the best thing about piece is the inclusion of a riotously clever video by Rich Juzwiak, who blogs about pop culture at fourfour.typepad.com, called "No Signal (and other cellular dramas)."
It's a compilation of clips from a couple of dozen scary movies in which the victims' cell phone doesn't work for one reason or another. While I haven't seen many of the movies, I doubt that I would have noticed this new trope even if I had were it not pointed out like this.
Anyway, I recommend the article and video wholeheartedly. And the next time you are searching for a cell signal in an airport or from your car or on the conference show floor, remember that all you have to lose is a business call or email; these poor cinematic souls are about to lose their lives. No, victim, we can't hear you now.