Picture the scene; a square-jawed detective, invulnerable to deception, ambush, and classy looks from killer-dames. Let’s call him ‘Anvil’. Anvil Hardweather. His criminal informant (a sterling hooker with a heart of gold and a child living with her grandmother) has given him a tip. The psycho that killed his previous partner (an old-timer 3-days from his pension) is loose. And she knows where he is. Anvil arrives at the apartment block. He’s definitely not called for back-up, and he’s probably told his new partner (a fresh-faced rookie) he’s checking his laundry. But he’s not. He exits his American muscle-car, and the camera pans in on his mobile. Damn, he left it on the passenger seat under a box of cookies he bought from a charity shop. Oh noes!
Anvil peels off some boards, making no noise, and steps inside the block. Room by room he scopes the scene, the barrel of his non-regulation revolver scanning the place as though it’s an extension of his sixth sense. Corridors, stairwells, dark-spaces; all are swept aside with impunity. The camera is back at the car. The gentle glow of the half-concealed phone is lighting up the cookie box. It’s his rookie partner, calling to warn him it’s a trap. Then we see the room. It’s empty through the doorway view. There’s probably a chair with a tape-recorder, or a fishing rod (did I say Anvil’s dead partner was going to retire to Maui and sport fish?). Anvil approaches the door and steps into the room. The door is open at an angle that would comfortably conceal a saboteur, or a psycho-killer. But we know Anvil; he’ll make sure he’s safe… oh wait, no. Detective Hardweather becomes another statistic of formulaic detective guff. He strolls past the door, doesn’t check behind it, and bam…lights out.
This is lazy-writing. And you should never forgive it. But if you cast a critical eye on what you watch or read; you’ll notice it’s everywhere. Superhero films are, without a doubt, the worst culprits. Marvel has amassed an obscene amount of cash from its Avenger’s campaign but it’s riddled with plot-holes bigger than Galactus’s ass.
The horror genre depends on your gullibility to make ends meet. I mean, by now, why has nobody invented the flash-knife—a handy tool for exploring sounds that come from a basement the soon-to-be-victim has never cleaned (so many cobwebs). Maybe it’s just spiders? Best leave them alone. Sci-fi requires us to go with the flow and I think we all know that in Star Trek, if they need to use the transporter in an emergency, there’s definitely going to be weird radiation interference (frankly, such technology would not get past Starfleet’s equivalent of the FAA).
But the winner for pure contrivance is the thriller genre, into which Anvil Hardweather falls. Thrillers sell themselves on the premise of clever plots and twists. They want to be treated as the Einstein of fictional media. We can forgive comics and horrors their sins but thrillers? No. Ask more of the writers; don’t let them sell you down the river with tired formulaic nonsense. Keep an eye out for Anvil. And if you see him, switch off, or close the book.