Is Zemeckis' Christmas Carol A Horror Film?

Here's an interesting piece of news for you to ponder. While the rest of Hollywood TV and movie studios are out promoting their upcoming projects at Comic Con, Robert Zemeckis is there to clarify some things about his latest upcoming project, A Christmas Carol.  Apparently Zemeckis wants us to know that his version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol is a "classic ghost story".

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times Thursday, and verified at the Disney 3D comic Con panel by our own writer Rob Keyes, Zemickis said he thought people might get the wrong idea about A Christmas Carol because it is being released by Disney.

"...,this is a movie for real movie fans, and real ghost-story fans and fans of graphic novels."

I personally find this information puzzling. It doesn't make that much sense to me that he is going all ghost-story with Dickens' classic tale of family, forgiveness, charity, generosity, patience and fellowship. I've never really equated Charles Dickens to Edgar Allen Poe or Stephen King, but that' s not to say a "re-imagining" of the story wouldn't be an interesting take on it though.

Let's just take a look at the information and marketing leading up to this point and see why Zemeckis would think audiences would get the wrong impression.

First is the director, Robert Zemeckis, who is known for a more family oriented director or at the very least a non-horror film director. He's portfolio includes, Romancing the Stone, Back to the Future Trilogy, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Forrest Gump, Cast Away, The Polar Express, and Beowulf. None of those films scream scary to me so why should audiences think he next project would be any different? He did direct the mildly OK What Lies Beneath that could be considered a "ghost story" but that is just one movie he did.

Next, is the studio he went with, Disney. If he was doing A Christmas Carol as an actual CGI version of the book, then I'd say it was a great choice but since he seems to be dead set on people accepting this as a ghost story, then I have to question his decision to go with them. Disney has the occasional "BOO" but it's always followed up with a laugh so I still see no reason to assume Carol is going to be scary.

Moving on to Jim Carrey, or funny man Jim Carrey, Ace Ventura, the Grinch, Fire Marshall Bill - the list goes on but nowhere on that list will you find his name associated with a horror film or even a suspenseful thriller. I'd be more concerned that he would put a suggestive pose or off color humor into the movie before I thought Carol was going to be a ghost story.

Now we'll quickly go through the promotional items that have been released so far for the film.

May 14th, 2009 the studio releases its first official poster - non scary:

May 20th, 2009 we get a good look at Jim Carrey in CGI form as Ebenezer Scrooge - still non scary:

July 7th, 2009 the first international poster is released which actually looked a little "scary":

And here is a new picture released of Scrooge (click on the image to enlarge):

After looking at all the marketing leading up to this point, would anybody honestly say they were thinking Zemeckis' version of A Christmas Carol was going to be more of a horror film? If he isn't careful, Zemeckis could have another Land of the Lost situation on his hands. And as we found earlier in the summer, parents don't like to be marketed to one way, just to be lead in a different direction once inside the theater. Maybe that is why he is trying so hard to clear things up now so to avoid it later.

When I was discussing this topic with Screen Rant writer extraordinaire Ross Miller, we were in agreement that the only major Hollywood director that has successfully built his reputation in both adult action/horror AND kid oriented films is Robert Rodriguez. He manages to straddle the fence very well and he does it by never bringing either genre close to each other.

Audiences know when they go to see From Dusk Til Dawn or Machete that you are in for a gory, adult language filled, solid R-rated movie. There's no doubting that in the least from the marketing or trailers. And when you go see Spy Kids or the upcoming Shorts, you know that it's going to be a zany, wild out of this world adventure that most kids under 13 are going to giggle and laugh at. Again, he never lets you think otherwise with the marketing or trailers.

I said in an earlier article that I thought audiences would very much enjoy the new CGI version of A Christmas Carol but now I'm left scratching my head, wondering if Zemeckis went in the right direction with the story.

Are you looking forward to the possible horror direction of A Christmas Carol or do you wish Hollywood would just leave our classics alone?

A Christmas Carol haunts a theater near you November 6, 2009.

Source:  Studio Briefing

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