I’ve loved horror movies for a long time, but I’ve always found it hard to talk about it with others because of my lack of familiarity with the western cannon. As a kid I started off with horror movies like The Ring and The Grudge and subsequently got into Asian horror. Because of this I never ended up watching common American classics like A Nightmare on Elm Street.
This challenge was my chance to play “catch-up” and improve my understanding of western horror history. I thought it’d be hard because of how many slashers I’d have to watch. I’ve never liked blood – it always makes me feel queasy – so slashers were my natural enemy. However, I did look forward to movies like The Silence of the Lambs and The House of the Devil, because I like supernatural and psychological movies and I find them easiest to get lost in.
The biggest part of the challenge I was scared about was actually forcing myself to watch a horror movie everyday and then write a review within the day. Yes, I tell my friends what I think of movies all the time but writing my thoughts out is a lot more time intensive than casually speaking them. My biggest concern was having a competent review for each movie.
Now that the challenge is done- I thought it’d be interesting to go ahead and analyze the results and experience overall. Did I meet expectations? Was it everything I wanted and more? How did my reviews compare to aggregate sites like IMDb? Tune in and find out.
I went to Metacritic and IMDb and found the aggregate ratings for each of the movies I saw. The Metascore on Metacritic uses a scale of 100. I scaled it back down to a scale of 10 to make comparing the numbers easier.
The sample size is only the 32 movies I saw during the challenge, so take the numbers as you will. As I get more reviews up here I can do more robust analyses. This particular retrospective might seem more trivial, but it’s a fun journey nonetheless.
NOTE: Ratings may change as more reviews are added over time so if you view this well after the posted date- keep that in mind.
|Title||My Rating||IMDb Rating||MetaCritic User Score||MetaCritic Meta Score|
|Hour of the Wolf||8.5||7.7||N/A||N/A|
|The House of the Devil||9.2||6.4||6.9||7.3|
|Night of the Living Dead||9.5||7.9||8.5||8.9|
|Texas Chain Saw Massacre||10.0||7.5||8.0||7.5|
|A Nightmare on Elm Street||9.1||7.5||8.8||7.6|
|The Cabin in the Woods||9.3||7.0||8.1||7.2|
|The Silence of the Lambs||10.0||8.6||8.8||8.5|
|Shaun of the Dead||9.0||7.9||8.7||7.6|
|In the Mouth of Madness||10.0||7.2||6.8||5.3|
|An American Werewolf in London||9.1||7.5||8.8||7.6|
|28 Days Later||9.5||7.6||7.7||7.3|
|Friday the 13th||7.2||6.5||5.6||2.2|
|The Devil’s Backbone||8.8||7.4||8.7||7.8|
|Hell House LLC||8.2||6.4||N/A||N/A|
|Zombieland: Double Tap||7.5||7.2||5.3||5.6|
Based on my ratings you can tell that this month was good for me. Out of the 32 movies I saw 8 movies that I would classify as a 10. Those movies were:
- The Shining
- The Texas Chain Saw Massacre
- The Thing
- The Silence of the Lambs
- In the Mouth of Madness
- The Lighthouse
Even though I’d say I’m more willing to give 10’s than other critics, I still find it amazing how many of the movies profoundly impacted me. On top of these 8 “unicorns”, an additional 4 movies made the A+ squad meaning that 37.5% of the movies I saw were good enough for me to want to recommend then to everyone. These additions include:
- Night of the Living Dead
- 28 Days Later
The distribution of these movies genre-wise is also something I’m surprised by. I didn’t think that I would rank any slasher up that highly, but Candyman and Texas Chain Saw Massacre were both so nuanced that I couldn’t help but be entranced by both movies. I love supernatural and psychological movies so that part makes sense.
The movie I ended up liking the least was Friday the 13th, which I gave a 7.2. After A Nightmare on Elm Street, I was hoping that one of the other great slasher series could give me something meaningful to bite into. Unfortunately, despite having a few nice moments, the movie didn’t hit me the way I wanted it to. It’s funny- before I started the marathon I didn’t want anything to do with the movie, but after being spoiled by some great ones, I started looking forward to the ones on my list. Congrats slasher movies – you got a fan in me.
|Review Source||Mean||Median||Standard Deviation|
|Metacritic – User||8.03||8.3||0.96|
My friends have always said I’m a film snob, and I’ve always maintained I’m not. But everytime I end up loving a horror movie (The Witch, It Follows, The Babadook…) it ends up being one of those divisive movies that gets good “critic” reviews but not so great user reviews. That’s what made the comparison of the major statistics so surprising.
My ratings were closest to the Metacritic – User ratings and also furthest away from the Metacritic – Meta ratings. It’s also interesting that that’s the only source that had a standard deviation well above 1. It seems like “critics” are more broad compared to a more “in tune” user base. I’d be interested in finding out why that’s the case, but that’s for another time when I have more data and better codding knowledge.
I also wanted to check out just how different my A+ movies differentiated from the way my counterparts ranked them. Maybe my self perceived greats were so good that they elicited similar reactions in others. I’ve excluded Nosferatu, Candyman, and Ringu because they have missing Metacritic data.
|Title||IMDb Difference||Metacritic Meta Difference||Metacritic User Difference|
|The Texas Chain Saw Massacre||2.5||2.0||2.5|
|Night of the Living Dead||1.6||1.0||0.6|
|The Silence of the Lambs||1.4||1.2||1.5|
|In the Mouth of Madness||2.8||3.2||4.7|
|28 Days Later||1.9||1.8||2.2|
The differences are promising in a certain light. Though my final rating for most of the above titles is higher than my counterparts, their position comparative to other movies on the list remains similar. I may give higher ratings – but those ratings are in line with (for the most part) the trend of rating horror movies. The biggest exceptions to this rule so far are The Shining and In the Mouth of Madness. Both movies are cult classics and I appreciated their depths into darker, more Lovecraftian themes. After looking it up, I found out that they’re part of John Carpenter’s “Apocalypse Trilogy”. When I found out I still had one movie, Prince of Darkness, to watch I felt tremendous jubilation.
In a more general sense, the ratings for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Night of the Living Dead, The Silence of the Lambs, and The Lighthouse have the closest score distributions out all the movies. The Lighthouse is the most striking given that every source sans myself had given the movie an 8.3.
Review of Writing Style
When I first started writing reviews, I thought the process was overwhelming. I’ve always been someone who just focuses on plot and interpretation. I’ve always appreciated things like score and camera angles but never thought about how they impacted my viewing experience. Trying to find a way to incorporate discussion about all the elements was my first big hurdle.
My earlier reviews like , Review: The Hour of the Wolf, exhibit the issue clearly. When I mention certain things, they come off as static and feel more like statements that have to be there as opposed to streams of natural thought that followed from the previous one. This is mainly because I’m not the best at using commas, so translating my spoken thought into proper written work is… difficult to say the least. If you’ve been reading for a while, you may notice I use a lot of “-“‘s in my work. I don’t know how correct it is, but the feeling it creates feels natural.
Thankfully, my more recent reviews are more fluid, even if the difference isn’t as big as I wanted. Sentences extend for longer and there’s more voice and expression in everything. There’s probably a lot more, but I’m more interested in seeing where my writing is at in a year, so I’ll wait until then to take a deeper look.
Overall, this experience was great. Watching a movie and writing a review everyday was challenging but was also incredibly rewarding. I was forced to critically inspect each movie at multiple levels and ended up appreciating the craftsmanship at work.
The hardest part of the process was feeling like there was a constant deadline for each movie. Some of the movies hit emotional beats pretty hard and it was difficult to force myself to watch a movie the next day. Balancing a movie a day on top of work and everyday life was also challenging and something I should’ve prepared around more.
The more serious movies that were playing in theaters proved to be the hardest to review. Joker and The Lighthouse both moved me and brought up a lot of interesting points, but I couldn’t pause, write out my thoughts, and rewind to catch up with certain points like I could do back at home on my PS3.
I’m definitely planning on doing this challenge next year, but now I think I have some good changes to make the process more manageable. I definitely need more fun/cheesy movies to lighten the mood. Being scared and philosophically boomed is great but there’s a charm to less serious movies. At the very least, they would serve as a much needed change in current that would keep the experience fresh.