The people who run the Modern Seinfeld Twitter account agree, but they're able to come up with seemingly endless plot ideas that fit the show's formula without being undone by things like cell phones, social media, and Wi-Fi.
But what about horror movies?
Does technology ruin horror movie plots, or can it make them scarier? (For instance, not getting 4G service? Scary as hell. Getting texts from your dentist? The stuff of nightmares.) Maybe it doesn't change the genre at all, but merely forces it to update its tropes--from "the phone cords have been cut!" to "my cell battery is dead!" Let's take a look at some examples.
The ShiningOne of the main tensions in this movie is the phone line being down at the Overlook Hotel, where the Torrance family is snowed in for the winter. Jack gets cabin fever and goes psycho on his family, which might not have happened if he'd had the internet and various cat videos to keep him company from November to May. And if the haunted hotel still drove him mad in the internet age, at least his family could have texted or Skyped for help from the outside world, or maybe Snapchatted this photo to the cops.
Rosemary's BabyUh, can you say "ultrasound?" And not to go down this road, but come on--abortion. Sorry, but I'm hoping even the most pro-lifers would abort Satan's spawn, no? In the 2014 version, Rosemary gets an ultrasound, and what she sees on the screen is so terrifying that the ultrasound tech dies. Then she experiences the worst morning sickness of all time, puking up bloody eyeballs and that weird chain that Naomi Watts pulls out of her throat in The Ring. Because she can't find anyone to perform the abortion, especially not given what happened to the ultrasound tech (you can bet that story got around in the medical community), she performs an at-home self-operation which is every bit as terrifying and gory as you'd expect a horror movie to be. The ending is ambiguous.
The RingSpeaking of The Ring, in the 2014 version, the video tape is instead uploaded to YouTube and promoted with a guerrilla marketing campaign by some sick fuck who wants it to go viral. Since YouTube is a much better viral video platform than an old VCR in a secluded cabin, after a few weeks, the entire world has seen the footage; it spreads faster than the ice bucket challenge for no discernible reason. Oh, and in 2014, 7 days is much too long to wait. That's like, worse than dial-up speed. Instead, as soon as you watch the video, you get a phone call from someone who rasps "7 seconds" and you have just long enough to Google around for solutions before you die.
The ExorcistIn today's version of The Exorcist, Regan's body and behavior changes aren't met with resistance. Her mom doesn't call in a priest to tame her when she stars cussing, masturbating and disobeying her. Instead, she gives her a care package that includes tampons and deodorant and says "welcome to the big change." And then the movie doesn't get made because no one wants to watch a movie about a girl getting her period. See also Carrie.
When a Stranger CallsThis movie would now instead recount the horror of seeing any unknown number on your cell phone. The horror that it could be your credit card company, a sales call, someone offering you an all-expenses paid trip to Florida, or a market research firm looking to conduct a survey. You never know, because it's a stranger calling. Who cares if the call's not coming from inside the house? That just makes it worse! At least if the call is coming from inside the house, you know it's probably just your roommate calling from the toilet to ask you to bring toilet paper.
I should also note that the premise of this movie is that a teenage girl goes over her 800 allotted cell phone minutes and has to take a babysitting job to earn enough money to pay for her overage charges. Today, no one has 800 allotted cell phone minutes, and if they do they never use them anyway because they're too busy texting and sexting. Today, iPads babysit your kids for free. And no one has a land line.
PoltergeistNothing in the world is creepier than a TV with static on it. That's why it was also used generously in The Ring the build tension. Because who knows what kind of creepy magic-eye stuff you could see if you look hard enough at the flickering snow? But TV static literally doesn't exist anymore because of digital TV. If you don't get a signal, you get a blue screen...a Blue Screen of Death, which is what this movie would have to be renamed in 2014. The premise of the movie is that a family gets a virus on their digital smart TV, which is called Poltergeist. It's not an actual ghost or anything supernatural, and there's no Indian burial ground involved. It's just your run-of-the-mill malware. Their TV malfunctions slowly at first, then gets increasingly worse, eventually driving the family crazy. The night they can't get The Voice to come through is the last straw, and the dad kills the entire family before killing himself. The movie closes with a realtor showing the house to a new family looking to move to the area. "The flatscreen TV actually comes with the place!" she says, teeth sparkling.
The Blair Witch ProjectIf the people in this movie had a GPS unit, cell phones, or literally any type of modern technology whatsoever, they wouldn't have gotten lost in the woods or died horrible deaths. So the updated version of this movie shows a group of teens decked out with the smartest of phones with the strongest of signals and the longest of battery lives. They are then attacked in the woods, Deliverance-style, stripping them of their technology. Then the movie proceeds as usual, except it's even scarier because these kids don't even know how to survive in the suburbs without their cell phones, let alone in the woods. For some reason they are not stripped of their camera equipment, so the footage still gets captured.
This would have been the movie poster instead.