Whenever my sister and I watch a movie together we play a game. We don’t even have to take our eyes off the screen to play this game. The game is: I try and guess the next move the protaganist will make, or what the twist is, or who’s the murderer, or what’s the next conflict. I’m usually right 98% of the time. And my sister will laugh and say something like “You should go work in Hollywood.”
My answer is, “Yeah. Because I have all their formulas down pact.” Who was it that said everything ever written boils down to seven plots?
I’ve noticed that anytime I see an animal in a movie—whether it’s a cat, dog, horse, or whatever—it dies. This is a guarantee. It’s bad enough that I have to worry that “no animal was harmed in the making of this motion picture,” but the worse part is, they first endear the animal to you (like someone’s dole-eyed pet), and then they kill it. They don’t really kill it, the ‘character’ that the animal plays gets killed. This is especially true if the film is a thriller: the killer lurks in the woods, the dog barks, chases after the bad guy, and then the doggy death yelp.
How many times have I seen this in movies? Answer: almost every time I see an animal in a film. It must be a screenwriter’s 101 formula for setting up the tension. Let me compile a list of a few films:
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (American version)
Inside Llewyn Davis
Forget the list. There’s too many to name, and I’m not sure about the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis because the cat’s body disappears after we assume it was hit by a car. It’s still a disturbing scene. And, remember the scene in the 1979 film Alien when the crew was evacuating the ship? At the last minute, Ripley hears the cat, Jones, meow over the intercom. Suddenly, she remembers to run back to get the cat. Someone in the audience yelled out, “Forget the cat!” A few people laughed, but I was relieved Ripley rescued the cat and they both escaped together.
So, there’s a few happy endings for animals in films.