This video’s being passed around the last couple of days with people discussing the cliché that is the dead cellular phone in horror and suspense movies. What I’ve not seen is anyone stating why this motif is so persistent.
Horror is derived from the feeling of isolation, from the fact that there is no easy out for a protagonist. In an era where 82% of Americans now have a cellular phone of some type, any screenplay (or comics script) that wants to keep the audience from suspecting the protagonists are as dumb as posts for not calling the police/national guard/Justice League in at the end of the first act needs to address the issue of the ubiquitous communications device that allows us to send pictures, emails, text messages, and make phone calls. Yes it’s a cliché, and usually clumsily handled, but it’s a necessary one to keep that needed suspension of disbelief aloft for the 90+ minutes of entertainment that the viewer has paid for.
(On a slightly-related note, that’s something I’ve noticed a lot about Japanese horror: it’s definitely about being isolated. In a very social, very crowded culture like theirs, the idea of being utterly alone already hits a tone. A prime example of this is the last third of Audition, where Takeshi Miike plays this to the hilt.)