You Know When it’s the DevilBy Stephanie M. Wytovich
If it’s dark and delightfully disturbing, chances are, I’m going to like it, at least in some fashion or respect. The macabre resonates with me in a way that is both terrifying and hauntingly beautiful, and to me, there’s nothing quite like the adrenaline rush of horror. With that said, there is something equally powerful to the effects of comedic relief in the genre. If done, and done well, the resulting laughter and jest become just as intense and potent as the fear leading up to it.
This leads us to a Dirt Devil commercial with the tag line “You know when it’s the Devil”: http://indulgd.com/probably-the-scariest-commercial-you-will-ever-see/
This commercial is in one word, brilliant. It plays with the classic tropes of exorcism and possession, using word play and the company name to its advantage. Right off the bat, we are met with darkness that is combated by a single light that shines on a priest waiting in the shadows outside of a house. Viewers familiar with the horror genre will immediately conjure images of The Exorcist as they are lead through the house and up the stairs. There is a ticking clock in the background that aids in the tension, heightening the dread. In all but a few moments, our fears are exposed, our emotions manipulated. There is the man praying in the study across the hall. A locked door, where behind it, there is nothing but screaming. After the priest kisses his cross and opens the door, our eyes are lead to an open bible on the bedside table, the girl, nowhere in sight.
But then we see her, glued to the ceiling and thrashing about. She’s screaming murder and we’re conditioned to believe that the Devil is inside her, using her body and tormenting her flesh. After all, that’s what we’ve grown up with. Horror has taught us the signs of possession, given us the tools to fight it. At this point in the commercial we’re screaming “the power of Christ compels you” and grabbing holy water. We’re ready to fight demons. We’re ready to save her soul.
And then, there’s the twist.
We see the room above the seemingly-possessed girl and watch an elderly woman singing as she vacuums her carpet with a Dirt Devil. The suck is so powerful that it’s pulled the girl downstairs out of her bed and is moving her back and forth on the ceiling as the woman cleans.
Chuckle worthy? You bet.
This dance of terror and laughter is what makes the piece so clever because the range and ratio of emotions that the viewer goes through is so immediate that the relief is akin to a popped balloon. I certainly didn’t expect the supposed cause of satanic power to be a vacuum cleaner and when that was revealed, the clip became that much more memorable. Plus, you can be damn sure that if I ever need a vacuum cleaner now that my first thought is going to be Dirt Devil.
Well played, folks. Well played.