Everyone Has Reversals

Story Lessons, Big and Small (Warning: Spoilers!)

December 09, 2007

Pleasure of the Payoff

Finally saw half of the Grindhouse release: Planet Terror. What an interesting viewing experience-- it's both totally distancing (Can one really care about these silly characters, and what's happening to them?) as well as completely engaging (There's zombies at the door!).

Probably the most interesting thing for me, though, is the care given to the payoff in this film. I mean everything is a callback to a line of dialogue earlier in the film. From El Wray's "I never miss" to Cherry Darling's "Useless talent #32", the film seems determined to see just how many setups and payoffs it can squeeze in. It almost becomes a game-- we're waiting to hear the next payoff line.

And the real kicker is, the payoffs still satisfy. They're still fun, and they still give you that little pleasure-thrill at having connected something now to something earlier. That's the power of payoffs. It's like the love of the payoff is in our DNA.

Many of us shy away from them, feeling they're too writerly or cutesy. Maybe we shouldn't be so shy after all...