A confluence of events have me pondering a kernel of an idea. Prometheus decapitated anticipation, and even the experience of watching the film rivaled the Astor Theater’s recent fail.Then I read Jame’s post, Your Coding Philosophies are Irrelevant, which triggered a thought.

Last night, I let Netflix streaming do the driving and watched two (“Top 10 for Christopher”) films: Rammbock and Pontypool. Both are minimalistic horror films which slowly build tension and suspense and develop real characters (of the two, I thought Pontypool pushed more boundaries and delivered more reward). Both do this with a fraction of the budget of Prometheus, few special effects, and bias toward keeping the creatures out-of-view. Just as with the original Alien, what you can’t see is almost always scarrier than what you can.

It’s impossible to know what disciplines of theater, photography, writing, production, cinematography, composition and filmmaking (if any) the three teams employed; but just as Jame’s accurately notes–it doesn’t matter. Prometheus stole 3 hours of my life, while Rammbock and Pontypool returned value. We can’t peer inside the black box of the films’ construction to divine what philosophies drove the choices the directors made, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say Mr. Scott is more religious about adhering to various filmmaking idioms and paradigms, while the others are not.

It’s pure speculation, of course, and perhaps not worth significant reflection; however, consider these films as software. As horror films, they have a primary function: to scare us. As science fiction films, they also have a nice-to-have function: to probe intellectual, moral and ethical boundaries. Prometheus is to iTunes what Pontypool is to Spotify.

There’s something that resonates in me with Jame’s conclusion: “It’s not the behind-the-scenes, pseudo-engineering theories that matter. An app needs to work and be relatively stable and bug free, but there are many ways to reach that point… And it might just be that too much of this kind of thinking is turning you into an obsessive architect of abstract code, not the builder of things people want.”

Clearly, the best prime directive is to build things people want to use. When I ask for a horror film, no matter what you do under the hood, if you give me a Prometheus–you’re wrong.