Here is a fun thought experiment.

In a moment, I will provide you with the title (only) of a movie I suspect most of you haven’t heard of. When you see the title, I want you NOT to go look it up, but rather to sit back for a moment and anticipate what kind of movie this is. Consider what its plot probably is, how it ends, its visual style, what sorts of actors might be in it, who went to see it, what critics probably said about it, why it was made, and so on.

The movie title is: Tokyo Gore Police

So go ahead, run through your mind what this movie must be about. Stay off the Internets for just 1 whole minute.

60, 59, 58, 57, 56….

OK, I know you can’t help yourself, so here’s a link to learn more about this movie. Come back, though.

I’d like to call your attention to several observations.

  • I’d be willing to bet that virtually all of you thought of the genre codes related to slasher movies, police movies, Japanese horror movies, Asian martial arts movies, B-movies. You probably expect extreme and explicit violence and gore. You might also have expected a stylized visual vocabulary. You might also have supposed that it might have a post-Scream series ironic or self-mocking tone to it.
  • I’d also be willing to bet that just about everyone formed an opinion of whether and under what circumstances they might watch a movie like this; I bet you also all would be able to suggest friends or family who totally should / absolutely should not watch this thing.
  • If you were to watch this, you would know very much what kind of experience you are likely to have, and you would prepare yourself emotionally or mentally for it.

Based on just the title alone, you know an incredible amount about this movie. Far more than is denoted by the words “Tokyo,” “Gore,” and “Police.” Your knowledge frames your whole attitude for (and with whom) you would approach this movie. Once it started, you would also constantly be understanding the events on-screen by means of comparing it to your prior knowledge of related examples and genre codes.

If you are still skeptical, imagine a person who has never seen any movie, has no awareness of any of these genre codes, has never heard of Scream or Freddy Kruger, has never seen an Asian martial arts film or played Silent Hill. It seems fair to say that our hypothetical person would have, as some of you put it, “fresh eyes.” Do you think that person would have a more authentic understanding of this film and its meanings than you do? I would answer no.

Final note: check out the “People who liked this also liked…” section at the very bottom of the IMDB page I linked. LOL!