But not this month.
I also have a penchant for works of the "so bad it's good" variety. I love a good laugh at wild incompetence and unintentional camp.
This list isn't for those pleasures either.
No, when I say guilty pleasure, I'm talking about those works of fiction that I can't with a straight face call unfairly maligned or good, but that I also can't help enjoying in at least a mostly intentional, non-mockery based way.
First up, the reigning champion of the cheap jump scare, the Paranormal Activity series.
If you've never seen it, here's how it goes:
A certain family, revolving in the present-day timeline around two adult sisters, Katie and Kristi, has long been stalked by demons. The series follows various branches of the family across two generations as they for various reasons taunt and provoke the demons and video record the creepy stuff that happens in their houses.
Why it's guilty:
After the first movie uses up the excuse that Katie's boyfriend is kind of a dick, the excuses for the cameras and demon-poking become increasingly flimsy. The backstory, when it inevitably tries to explain how the whole demon stalking thing got started with the activities of a dark coven, there's nothing particularly interesting or different about it.
Why it's a pleasure:
Apart from the lackluster backstory, this is a series that knows where its strengths are, and it runs with them in more imaginative and effective ways than you'd think would be possible with its very simple premise and low-budget approach. It's not deep and thought-provoking, but it is scary. It starts simple, with slamming doors and sleepwalking and ill-advised Ouija Board use, but it continues to bring in new gags,
One of the biggest events of the first movie is Katie getting dragged out of bed by an invisible force, and after all the hands-off creepy leading up to it, it's a gasp-worthy moment.
It helps that, while the characters aren't the most complex and explored, the performances are pretty solidly believable all around. In part three, the one lovable guy to be found in the series (the other male characters have a pretty damning track record of demon-taunting and willful denial) and Katie's childhood self manage to make a scene of playing Bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror genuinely terrifying with their freakouts.
For this example, I must only point to the infamous Fan Cam.
In part three, the tormented family, in their efforts to see what’s really happening through the power of video surveillance, attach a camera to the oscillating base of a fan, and what ensues is jump scare magic.
The choreography of the scenes in front of the moving camera keeps you always wanting to see exactly what you can't at any given moment. Or not wanting to see it, yet wanting to see it, because this is a movie about stalking demons.
Agree? Disagree? Comments are always welcome! Or keep up with my fictional musings by joining me on Facebook, on Twitter, or by signing up for email updates in the panel on the right!