Horror movie aficionados around the world are getting tired of rolling their eyes at another final girl without a bra running Upstairs where there is no second way out, and the absence of this dummy is just one of the things that makes Mimi Cave Costs so, well, refreshing.
The blame is not on the victims of these films: no one deserves to have their ass (or part of it) surgically removed and sold for a profit against their will. And yet, for those of us who love a good thriller, we can’t help but wince when a character makes a distinctly prey-like decision like we’ve seen a hundred times before.
He trusts too much too soon; she doesn’t want to be rude; they don’t listen to their intuition despite several distinct warning signs…the list goes on. The experience of watching characters helplessly run into danger is emotionally draining and, frankly, it’s so ended.
But not in Costs. In Costs, no one is doing anything particularly stupid – sure, they are misstepping, but nothing beyond basic human error. Yet one character stands out as a poster child for How to Behave in a Horror Movie, and that character is Paul (Dayo Okeniyi).
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Basically, he does everything right and goes out of his way to help without putting themselves in harm’s way or – as seen all too often with traditionally male characters – trying to be a hero to be a hero.
Paul is simply a good guy in the right place at the right time. He’s not looking for trouble – rather the situation gets to him. He’s literally doing his job when Noa (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her date Steve (Sebastian Stan) show up at his bar.
Noa casually mentions her mutual acquaintance Paul to her best friend Mollie (Jonica T Gibbs) when she recaps her date, and Mollie briefly reflects on her brief relationship with him, saying, “Paul? Aw, Paul! I don’t don’t remember why we stopped He was a good guy.
She is right: he East a good guy, and his demeanor is one to be emulated by any self-respecting person in the horror movie that is life these days. When Noa goes missing, Mollie asks Paul for help. That’s when it starts to shine and when Costs subverts the horror movie model.
It comes at the end when Paul displays the most important survival tactic: he listens to his intuition.
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Paul tries to help Mollie by following the map in his screenshot to find her, but when he pulls up in front of the strange, remote bunker, his warning signs go off and he says (correctly) that “that shit is scary as f**k”.
He takes a second to see if he can locate Mollie without riding up to the house, but when he hears a gunshot, he follows his own hunch. He throws the car in reverse and drives off, which is exactly the right choice because he would otherwise have been murdered by Stockholm-Syndroming’s wife Ann (Charlotte Le Bon).
Paul even said out loud, “Come on man, we saw that movie. We ain’t gonna make it out alive that bitch, you know that.”
But Paul’s refreshing actions in the finale aren’t unique, as he’s shown throughout Costs avoiding all the frustrating pitfalls he could have fallen into.
Like any good bartender, Paul remembers his customers, especially women who appear to be on a first date. Paul remembers Noa, but when Mollie shows up and flirts with him in an attempt to get Steve’s details, he doesn’t immediately give them.
He wants to help, but Paul doesn’t give in to the thirst trap she’s trying to set for him. Instead, he redirects the conversation by suggesting that she go to the police, which, again, would be a sensible and logical thing for a person to do.
Of course, it doesn’t quite happen that way because it wouldn’t really be a movie. Paul tries to help her find her missing friend by just doing her a little favor that takes almost no effort.
This unwittingly leads Mollie to put herself in danger, but Paul reacts to Mollie’s disappearance in another sensible way. (Honestly, does he even know he’s in a horror movie?)
In any mystery of a potentially criminal situation, the characters must have common sense (not common sense, because it is not, in fact, that common). Paul is sensible, citizen-sleuth, when he captures Mollie’s location, which she previously shared with him “just in case shit goes wrong.”
Any mildly tech-savvy user knows that when your phone loses service or dies, location services no longer work. He takes this precaution aware of Noa’s disappearance and the result is crucial almost immediately.
He tries to call Mollie when he closes the bar and when she doesn’t answer he tries to find her location only to see “LOCATION UNAVAILABLE”, which leads him into the potentially heroic search escapade we mentioned earlier. .
Paul may not be the traditionally defined “hero” of this story, in that he didn’t save the damsels, but because he knows how to behave in a horror movie, he Is make sure that bitch is alive – and she’s a hero to us as a result.
Costs is available to watch now on Disney+ in the UK and on Hulu in the United States.
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