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Ann Hornaday’s “‘Prisoners’” Is a Close Encounter of the Pulp Kind

In response to Ann Hornaday’s 737‑word review of Prisoners on Washington Post

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Ann Hornaday’s “‘Prisoners’ movie review: A well-made, pulpy crime thriller” attempts to sound hip and cool, but it misses the mark by addressing an alien audience.

Odd phrases, non-verbs used as verbs, and made up words, such as “pulp miserablism,” riddle the review. Hornaday provides an interesting context for the film’s reception, as well as useful information about the plot and characters of the film, but that’s where the relevance of her review unalterably crashes into mind-boggling murkiness.

With a verbal torch of self-righteous indignation, Hornaday attacks the potential movie watcher—who might enjoy watching Prisoners—by maintaining such deplorable people would be merely indulging in vicarious sadism and violent fantasies. Not only does her pre-condemnation totally erode the positive aspects of the film that she identifies, her execution is about as reader-sensitive as a verbal earthquake.

After so much promiscuous persecution, the picture of a life-sized pumpkin to the left of the review takes on an ominous glow, as though the reader has been sucked into a hypocritical vortex of meretricious hokum.

Hornaday may or may not have a strong pedigree, but three things are certain—she loves em-dashes—she can’t get enough of the word “pulp“—and she thinks Prisoners is pulp. This review is henpecked by its own confused devices, and it is not recommended for any reader, ever.    

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