Adventures in Fake Journalism: Chain Letter

Regular visitors to the Castle will be familiar with my love of the fake books, newspapers, and websites that the crew has to throw together - often on short notice - to add a sense of verisimilitude to a film. Generally it's a morbid kind of love, where I gleefully chronicle the various misspellings and terrible sentence structure that are the hallmarks of hastily-written filler text. Every now and then, though, I encounter legitimately well-written sections of text, where someone has gone out of their way to make an article look and read like something that might appear in the real world - even though they know full well the results of that work will only ever appear onscreen for a maximum of 2.5 seconds, tops.

Which I guess is the real reason I write these things - for those rare occasions where I get to shower some appreciation on the people whose work is almost never recognized by the filmgoing public.

Although mocking typos is fun, too.

Now, on to Chain Letter, specifically the key scene in which the main character does a bunch of internet research that has absolutely no impact on the plot!

The first page, with its shocking headline and seemingly appropriate but actually incongruous photo of a microchip, has type so small as to be illegible, so let's move on.

The different photos and sub-headlines would lead you to believe that these are two different articles on the same website, but in fact the text is identical in both cases, and colourfully-written enough that I was sure it wasn't the work of anyone working on a movie as low-rent and poorly-concieved as Chain Letter. A quick google search of the first few words, 'Their battle fatigues are jeans' later, and I'd discovered the article that was copied and pasted by the production staff: an account of the terror attacks in Mumbai, including an explanation of how the killers used blackberries to keep apprised of police movements, thereby staying ahead of the authorities as they continued their rampage. It's a perfectly well-chosen article, given the subject matter of the film, although the fact that it's about India both renders the subheadlines inaccurate and stands at odds with the American solipsism that permeates the rest of the film.

Also, I was really hoping that they'd have made a real article here so we could discover whether technology was going to kill us or not.

This article had considerably less work into it and, once again, a google search was all the research done to find filler text. This time it was probably 'serial killers', which wound up delivering an article that was startling inappropriate for something that was supposed to be about the police looking for someone who had killed two local teens.

So, all in all there was slightly more effort than usual put into the fake articles (yes, a google search is more effort than normal), but still, not a great showing, Chain Letter. Not that this is a surprise.

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