The VVisdom of Crowds
June 22, 2018 11:28 PM   Subscribe

 
Weirdly the first list is almost all films that I live, and I was all set to hate the second list especially as it has fucking Saw as its first image but instead of the wall to wall jump scare garbage I expected there’s actually a fair few faves of mine in there.

Oh yeah and Hereditary is great but super stressy to watch, for me at least. Fanfare.

The VVitch is a goddamn triumph.
posted by Artw at 11:34 PM on June 22, 2018 [8 favorites]


I like all the Resident Evil movies, but I can understand why critics wouldn't. On the other hand, I cannot understand how anyone could enjoy the Underworld franchise.

As for Saw, it gets old. The first one yeah, new and exciting, but after a while watching people get tortured just becomes boring.
posted by Literaryhero at 11:41 PM on June 22, 2018


I was expecting to agree solidly with the critic's list, but to be honest I'm kind of splitting both here. For example, Saw is about as good as torture porn gets (which is to say a personal 3.5, but a 10.0 for that particular genre), but Open Water is boring shit regardless of how you cut it.
posted by codacorolla at 11:50 PM on June 22, 2018 [2 favorites]


Event Horizon is my weird adopted mutant child and I fill defend it fiercely while at the same time knowing exactly how it earned it’s not-entirely-ungenerous-for-what-it-is Critical Score.
posted by Artw at 11:56 PM on June 22, 2018 [14 favorites]


We have a trade to announce:

Open Water goes to the shitty movie list, in return for Ravenous.

-A Critic, apparently
posted by mannequito at 12:26 AM on June 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


Re: The Phantom of the Opera:

One can only assume that’s a lot of residual fandom and goodwill from people who adore the stage version


Most of the people I know who love this movie are people who are too young to have experienced the stage version in its first run and came into it without expectations or comparisons.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:47 AM on June 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


My main complaint with these lists is that UNDERWORLD is considered horror??? Really?
posted by greermahoney at 12:53 AM on June 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm guessing that they've picked horror because this trend is particularly pronounced in that genre? It would make sense, I think. Thinking about my friends who have been really into horror cinema, it seems like they often prize very specific qualities in films, and will tend to judge a film based on its delivery of that, more than on the aspects of the film that don't affect that delivery.
posted by howfar at 12:56 AM on June 23, 2018


I have some sympathy for a critic staring down a Repo! The Genetic Opera review. It's a kind of unfair position to put them in, isn't it? It's a super enjoyable movie. Unique and even stylish, in its way. It's also straight-to-video cheap and deeply, deeply stupid. I love it to pieces but to go around recommending it to strangers seems... unkind, somehow.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 12:57 AM on June 23, 2018 [11 favorites]


It's a kind of unfair position to put them in, isn't it?

I think it also reveals a problem with making movie reviews into grades of any kind. A useful review, to a reader, primarily serves the purpose of telling them whether they'll enjoy a film, not whether anyone else will enjoy it. A decent review of something like Repo! The Genetic Opera will be able to convey both the niche appeal and the problems and difficulties with the film. Reducing that to "fresh or rotten" is a useful way to aggregate reviews, and has its place, but it's a much less useful guide for any viewer than a couple of critics they know and trust. And, of course, plenty of movie reviews are unhelpfully reductive and focused on the notion of "objective" quality (as if such a thing exists).
posted by howfar at 1:14 AM on June 23, 2018 [13 favorites]


Wow, that audiences like, critics hate list is patronising as fuck.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 1:51 AM on June 23, 2018


There's def a split in horror at the moment between arty stuff like the VVitch and Hereditary and the more multiplex friendly stuff as typified by anything James Wan has a hand in. There's less difference in opinion between critics and moviegoers in the latter case but the former can def try non-hardcore film fans patience.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:05 AM on June 23, 2018


Well, this all demonstrates a very common failing of the genre of criticism, which is the dilemna of reconciling the general denominator with the niche afficionado. The greats like Kael and Ebert were advocates of new schemas of critique which elided from the elitism of conventional theatrical based criticism (with it's heavy emphasis on performance and catharsis).
Too many critics are writing towards the notion that there is some platonic score that can be assigned to a cinematic work. That's one reason why I think metacritic is poison to the genre of criticism- a median score is ultimately dross, speaking more to the human psychology of score assignment within an integer set than to any quality or inferiority of the work itself. Criticism is an art form in itself, a project of summation, digestion, blending wit to analysis. The aspiration of the critic should be to act as a curator, a sommelier, a psychopomp- aiding a person in their journey to discover the art which speaks to them, and to discard the art which speaks past them, beneath them, or above them.

Speaking as a film critic on the first list: loved the VVitch, Splice, sort of middling on Open Water (it's like Van Sant's Gerry, but with less action)
RE the second list: love Event Horizon, Repo! also, Ravenous is a flawed gem, Resident Evil is flawed and defensible schlock, hate Saw (far too pat, also torture porn).

I think this divide also reflects some key aspects: film critics, in general, are skewed towards talky, dialogue driven films, and have a greater patience for the slow burn and atmosphere; movie audiences in general have less of a need for internal plot logic, are more accepting of urban fantasy as a genre, and are more willing to embrace schlock.
posted by LeRoienJaune at 3:51 AM on June 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


Oh man, Repo. A friend of ours insisted we watch it, and talked it up like it was an Actually Good movie, instead of… what it was. In retrospect, I feel like it could have worked, but that thing they did with the animated segments that they added in order to tell you the story twice per scene was kind of tedious.
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:06 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


I love Open Water, but trying to convince anyone else of its virtues is nearly impossible, so instead I will just tread water out here, alone but content in my superiority, until the inevitable.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 4:45 AM on June 23, 2018 [16 favorites]


Open Water may be great but I would never, ever watch the thing. Basically just noped out by the premise.
posted by Artw at 5:14 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Repo had a really good soundtrack though. So did Ravenous.
posted by Hazelsmrf at 5:26 AM on June 23, 2018


I wonder how often critics and audiences split significantly on horror.
Thinking of so many good, recent horror films that aren't on these lists.
posted by doctornemo at 5:57 AM on June 23, 2018


See also Let us Prey, which I've been nigh-on evangelical about in these parts. RT score: 78%, audience score 42%. If you haven't seen it, it's basically Liam Cunningham (Ser Davos!) and Pollyana McIntosh in a movie that finds a middle ground between two John Carpenter classics, Prince of Darkness and Assault on Precinct 13. And if that doesn't sound good to you what are you even doing in a horror movie thread?
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:34 AM on June 23, 2018 [11 favorites]


I adored The VVitch. I’m seeing Hereditary tonight and I’m excited as hell.

I loved Event Horizon too. And I really liked House of 1000 Corpses, though my gut tells me it wouldn’t hold up to a re-watch. Underworld was just boring.

Ravenous I do not get the love for. Maybe I saw it at the wrong moment, but people seem to love it and I hated hated hated it.
posted by middleclasstool at 6:35 AM on June 23, 2018


Flickmetrix is one service that allows you to search on advanced criteria like high critic / low user ratings (or vice versa) at Rotten Tomatoes.

Exploring it just a little turns up these possible additions to the user list, where the smallest divide was 27.8 points ...

The Covenant (58 points)
Queen of the Damned (49 points)
Final Destination (34 points)
Silent Hill (33 points)
High Tension (27 points)

And these possible additions to the critic list, where the smallest divide was 31 points ...

In Fear (41 points)
Mom and Dad (36 points)
Demon (35 points)
The Love Witch (35 points)
Killing Ground (32 points)
The Transfiguration (32 points)
Berberian Sound Studio (31 points)
Drag Me to Hell (30 points)

That probably includes some thriller/drama stuff by accident, and it definitely misses some things as well. But Flickmetrix did turn up many of the things in the post links, and other genres could be fun to explore there too.
posted by Wobbuffet at 6:48 AM on June 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


First list dramatically weaker than the second list there, wobbuffet.

Would HUGELY recommend Berberian Sound System and Drag Me to Hell to anyone, and The Love Witch is its own weird thing that IMHO is flat out amazing.
posted by Artw at 6:56 AM on June 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


Weirdly the first list is almost all films that I live

... have you considered moving
posted by solotoro at 6:57 AM on June 23, 2018 [27 favorites]


This article was useful to me personally in that it reminded me there are two somewhat divergent schools of horror fan: those who want to see filmmakers try something new and those who want scares delivered in a familiar way this weekend at the multiplex. I can hang with either group, but often forget myself and cheerfully drag my "horror fan" friends who would rather watch Paranormal Activity 6 to stuff like Hereditary and then I have to wear it while they sit there agitated and unhappy.

In summary, please move to Chicagoland and watch horror movies with me as I need new moviegoing companions.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:05 AM on June 23, 2018 [7 favorites]


Once you get a crew I throughly recommend getting hats.
posted by Artw at 7:10 AM on June 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


I looked up Mum & Dad as remembered it as an opinion splitter (and randomly the director just started following me on twitter) It's 78% critics 47% audience - difference 31 points. I'd be on the critics side because it was an amazing movie, but it's really bleak and horrible (and based on a true story) so I can see how it's not been audience friendly.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:11 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


I love Teeth and Ravenous. I tend to go for horror that's got some kind of commentary with it rather than just jump scares and/or misogyny.
posted by bile and syntax at 7:31 AM on June 23, 2018


I cannot understand how anyone could enjoy the Underworld franchise.

A little Bill Nighy goes a long way.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 7:31 AM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


All the Underworld movies together got nothing on the original Blade.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:49 AM on June 23, 2018 [6 favorites]


Yeah, but some motherfuckers are always trying to iceskate uphill.
posted by Artw at 7:54 AM on June 23, 2018 [8 favorites]


I cannot understand how anyone could enjoy the Underworld franchise.

Due to my age and location in fandom, I am hard wired to find "Scott Speedman looking confused" to be almost unbearably fascinating, and I think you'll find that this is 85% of the plot of these movies. (See also: Scott Speedman wearing thick cable knit sweaters while looking weary.)

I also like conspiracy plots, and Selene finding out that she's been trained to slaughter enemies who were never really her enemies based on centuries of LIES is very much my jam.

I also love Michael Sheen, who gives his all to every role, even the bonkers ones. Plus, making multiple movies with your ex, in movies directed by her new husband, who she fell for on set of the first movie? While still remaining friends and supportive co-parents?????? RESPECT.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:59 AM on June 23, 2018 [5 favorites]


Michael Sheen in Underworld is no Michael Sheen in Twilight.
posted by Artw at 8:03 AM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


This is very useful to me: I was undecided about seeing Hereditary but everything I have seen in the first list I have enjoyed and everything on the second list I found dismal (although as with one or two others above, I figured Saw when it was still a stand-alone movie had a certain grim ingenuity).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:06 AM on June 23, 2018


Event Horizon is good but I like Space Madness movies in general.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 8:14 AM on June 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


I almost walked out on Splice the first time I saw it, mostly because I wasn't expecting a campy B movie starring A-list actors.

From the second viewing onward it has been clear that the film is, uh, amazeballs.
posted by grumpybear69 at 8:36 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


Nightmares almost always have ridiculously bad plots.

Crude plots in horror movies often make them work better, strangely enough.
posted by jamjam at 9:34 AM on June 23, 2018


Too many critics are writing towards the notion that there is some platonic score that can be assigned to a cinematic work. That's one reason why I think metacritic is poison to the genre of criticism- a median score is ultimately dross, speaking more to the human psychology of score assignment within an integer set than to any quality or inferiority of the work itself. Criticism is an art form in itself, a project of summation, digestion, blending wit to analysis. The aspiration of the critic should be to act as a curator, a sommelier, a psychopomp- aiding a person in their journey to discover the art which speaks to them, and to discard the art which speaks past them, beneath them, or above them.

Bob Chipman just did a good rant on this, tying it back into exactly why diversity is needed in criticism (short version: it's not about getting better scores for movies made by and including diverse casts, it's about expanding the background of critics to better explore critically media of all types.)
posted by NoxAeternum at 10:12 AM on June 23, 2018


FWIW audience ratings on sites like RT and IMDB are somewhat suspect themselves as far as diversity goes
posted by Artw at 10:55 AM on June 23, 2018


So... quality is divorced from popularity? Its 2018. We should know this.
posted by BigBrooklyn at 11:01 AM on June 23, 2018


All the Underworld movies together got nothing on the original Blade.

Quoted for truth. In Blade 3, he does the 3-point superhero landing. What more do you want, dude?
posted by SPrintF at 11:05 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]




The VVitch is the most thought-provoking film I've seen in a long time. Horror, at it's best, is transgressive. It makes you uncomfortable. The VVitch made me uneasy from the first "peek-a-boo" scene on.
posted by SPrintF at 11:21 AM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


I have a really hard time with horror movies, primarily because I already have chronic nightmares to begin with, but I’m dying to see a truly great alien or alien abduction or alien invasion movie. “Signs” is the pinnacle for me, in spite of the terrible storyline and “plot twist”. The imagery and the sound effects are haunting, and it’s the only movie thus far that I’ve ran out of the theater from. I’m such a big fan of alien and UFO sightings that it’s upsetting that there isn’t a great alien movie. For what it’s worth, “Fire In The Sky” is pretty good, but I didn’t exactly find it scary. I’ve yet to watch “Communion”, but the book destroyed me as a child. The final segment of “VHS 2” is good, very visceral and straight to the point, but not altogether scary. The other alien movies I’ve seen are mostly scary because I’m scared of aliens, but the movies themselves aren’t scary. I guess my issue is that my own imagination and nightmares involving aliens are scarier than movies, but I’d still love to see a creeping horror movie about a situation like the Phoenix Lights, or the Rendelsham Forest incident. The concept of aliens, fear of the unknown, etc., is what draws me, which is why I find Signs to be particularly great in this regard. That first shot of the alien standing on the barn, with just its inhuman-looking silhouette, is incredible, and I love the feeling of mass hysteria, without it even being shown, that M. Night Shyamalan portrayed through the use of the family breaking down, watching the TV constantly and reading a book and getting “crazy” ideas about what’s happening, against what is at that point an entirely unknown and surreal threat not just to themselves but to society in general, as well as the breakdown in family structure and faith that begins from the matriarch dying, although it all eventually comes back together. Those themes are good, in my opinion, but the existential dread of these aliens is scary to me, and the foreboding sense of something out there is the big emotion I’d love to see evoked again in an alien movie. That’s why things like the Phoenix Lights, or other UFO sightings that cause hysterics in the populace, are so fascinating to me. I don’t care about conspiracy theories or any of that crap, I want to have my sense of human security in the greater universe riled up, I want to be made to feel unimportant and weak and impotent in the face of an unknown. Ghosts and haunted houses and such don’t particularly freak me out, although I do enjoy a lot of those movies (I especially enjoyed “The Conjuring”, but primarily because, as a photographer and with experience in sound engineering, I found it extremely well-done, as opposed to a lot of horror movies where I don’t enjoy a lot of the shots. The DoP on that did an excellent job.) I think one of the best alien “movies”, which was actually broadcasted on television, was Incident in Lake County. As a whole it is an extremely cheesy, low budget television episode, but some of the shots in it are terrifying to me. The images of these dark, inhuman looking figures (like in Signs), lingering just outside this house, are freaky and are a subdued form of horror. Sometimes I think I’ll just have to end up making an alien movie myself, or some sort of documentary, because I find this stuff so fascinating, and all of the alien documentaries are so incredibly terrible that I don’t even bother with them. I wish A24 could get a movie going like what I’m thinking of. The Witch was great.

My all-time favorite horror movie besides Signs though is The Blair Witch Project. When I was a kid I had followed that on the internet and went to see it as soon as it came out. I’ve been terribly afraid of the woods since then, and going camping is an extremely stressful experience for me. The shots of the stick figures all over the woods is etched into my brain, as is the final shot of the guy standing in the corner. I’ll never forget that movie for as long as I live.
posted by gucci mane at 11:49 AM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've digested a ton of horror in the last decade or so, and the critics are correct - "The Witch" is outstanding.
posted by ryanshepard at 12:39 PM on June 23, 2018


Timely, as I just saw Hereditary last night based on the 90% Rotten Tomatoes rating, but was disappointed.
posted by spicytunaroll at 1:18 PM on June 23, 2018


FWIW audience ratings on sites like RT and IMDB are somewhat suspect themselves as far as diversity goes

Well, duh. They’re all from a small handful of MoviePass shills. (Maybe.)
posted by Sys Rq at 2:21 PM on June 23, 2018


I don't know about all of these, but for The Covenant, the answer to "what the hell?" is indeed "Sebastian Stan's Twink Phase." I passed a very entertaining ten minutes a few nights ago on the Letterboxd website looking at Covenant reviews and they were very clear on this point.
posted by Stacey at 4:20 PM on June 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


I need to re-download my Repo! soundtrack. It truly was fantastic.
posted by Night_owl at 5:50 PM on June 23, 2018


I love Teeth and Ravenous. I tend to go for horror that's got some kind of commentary with it rather than just jump scares and/or misogyny.

In my opinion Teeth totally fails on this regard because the range of 'defense' is too short ( don't want to spoil anything). Good concept but bad movie.
posted by The_Vegetables at 6:24 PM on June 23, 2018


This genre frustrates me so much. I have absolutely no interest in the slasher-flick/jump-scare tradition of horror movies, I very occasionally enjoy a B-movie supernatural/monster horror (Drag Me to Hell and The Host come to mind). Don't Breathe had a lot of jump-scares, but I loved it.

I'm quite strongly aligned with the critics' sensibilities, I suppose, because I don't want to have fun when I watch these films, I want to be immersed in an unending sense of terror and dread, relieved occasionally by a panicked impulse to flee. Blood and gore doesn't do that for me, but even the more popular It Follows managed some of that experience.

I thought the original Ring was about 10% cheesy and 90% pure nightmare, and Audition is one of my all-time favorite horror films.

And, yeah, I absolutely loved VVitch.

It seems like there are two large audiences with taste contrary to the critic's (and mine), and that's the teen multiplex slasher fans and the devoted horror movie fans -- the latter mixes some ironic detachment with the fanatic's deep fascination for subtle variations of formula. And both of those preferences are completely fine and defensible, of course. It's just that they are largely disjunct from mine but all of this gets tossed into the same genre bucket. It makes it frustrating to find what I'm looking for. I usually just say I strongly prefer "psychological horror", but that doesn't quite capture the distinction.

But note that some of the same things are true, though perhaps not to this extreme, about other genres, like science-fiction.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 9:44 PM on June 23, 2018 [3 favorites]


I like Spooky Horror, Talky Psychological Horror, Space Madness, and Disaster Films. Moon hits all of these.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:31 PM on June 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Ivan, I think we have overlapping tastes. My assumption is that Orfanato, The Others, Mama, Cabin in the Woods, and The Bay would be things you've enjoyed.
posted by fluttering hellfire at 10:43 PM on June 23, 2018


I attend a classic monster movie drive-in weekend every September, and I just found put this year's program is all Hammer classics. I am stoked beyond words.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:24 AM on June 24, 2018 [4 favorites]


A useful review, to a reader, primarily serves the purpose of telling them whether they'll enjoy a film, not whether anyone else will enjoy it. A decent review of something like Repo! The Genetic Opera will be able to convey both the niche appeal and the problems and difficulties with the film. Reducing that to "fresh or rotten" is a useful way to aggregate reviews, and has its place, but it's a much less useful guide for any viewer than a couple of critics they know and trust.

This is why, while recommending RT to people, I also emphasise that they scroll down to read the reviewer snippets (and if intrigued, click through to read the full review of one or more critics). A movie can receive high praise for being a thing you loathe, or get trounced for being a thing you love. The scores themselves are absolutely not enough to go on.

Also, Event Horizon cemented my crush on Sam Neill, which first blossomed in Jurassic Park, so that's a film I'll always defend.
posted by Aya Hirano on the Astral Plane at 7:05 AM on June 24, 2018


Timely, as I just saw Hereditary last night based on the 90% Rotten Tomatoes rating, but was disappointed.

I just saw it last night too and loved it. I totally understand why people didn’t, and it certainly wasn’t perfect, but I’m solidly with the critics on this one.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:21 AM on June 24, 2018


I'm not really surprised that I've seen zero of the films on either list. I just can't do horror, it took me multiple tries to get through "Get Out" because it was freaking me out too much.
posted by octothorpe at 2:22 PM on June 24, 2018


RT is also kind of a dangerous thing to just glance at. As we learned with Oz the Great and Powerful, “50%” on Rotten Tomatoes can easily mean “50% hated it and 50% didn’t quite hate it, but didn't especially like it either”
posted by DoctorFedora at 3:35 PM on June 24, 2018


Is there a reason why people are spelling The Witch with two capital Vs? (VVitch)
posted by orrnyereg at 7:18 AM on June 25, 2018


Is there a reason why people are spelling The Witch with two capital Vs? (VVitch)

That's how the title is stylized on posters and on the title card.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 7:31 AM on June 25, 2018


I could tell you, but then you would have to fend off Black Phillip

OK, but don't say I didn't warn you... the film, especially the dialogue, is very strongly based on contemporary records, diaries, court documents etc... at the time it was kind of standard to use two V's for a W when printing

Black Phillip, Black Phillip
A crown grows out his head,
Black Phillip, Black Phillip
To nanny queen is wed.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:35 AM on June 25, 2018 [2 favorites]


It’s pronounced “The Verrvitch”.
posted by Artw at 8:03 AM on June 25, 2018 [5 favorites]


Thou dost not like the taste of butter

Thou dost not like to live deliciously
posted by middleclasstool at 9:29 AM on June 25, 2018


I must have missed something about the Witch... I do not understand all the love for it. Maybe I shouldn't have turned on the subtitles or something? But the sound was just so uneven it was impossible to understand anything unless I was reading the dialogue.
posted by Grither at 11:23 AM on June 25, 2018


It’s pronounced “The Verrvitch”.

Verrvitch. Verrcastle.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:43 AM on June 25, 2018


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