Does Rotten Tomatoes Hate the Horror Genre?

Horror

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Rotten Tomatoes Child's Play 2

Critics aren’t a homogenous bunch, though there is this enduring belief that critics are innately hostile toward horror movies. This past weekend, users on Reddit questioned whether critics and review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes were too harsh on the genre. The veracity is challenging to unpack. On one hand, I’ve always believed that critics don’t need to like anything.

As long as their criticism is thoughtful, informed, and appropriately contextualized, I’m okay with someone loving what I hate or hating what I love. Conversely, horror literacy is reasonably lacking among some top critics, the genre often used as either a pejorative or qualifier for success—it’s good… for a horror movie. Check out the post below:

Among the original poster’s contentions are Child’s Play 2 (40% critic score, 52% audience), House of 1000 Corpses (21% critic score, 65% audience), Sorority Row (26% critic score, 33% audience), Urban Legend (27% critic score, 37% audience), Saw (50% critic score, 80% audience), The Collector (29% critic score, 48% audience), and I Know What You Did Last Summer (45% critic score, 41% audience).

There’s much to unpack within both the original post and the comments, where over 300 users tweeted their thoughts. First, I must acknowledge that, as critics from time immemorial have, no one is paying for good reviews. Additionally—and I’m not even sure how this would work—no one is paying for bad reviews. Critics are independent. Even among the Dread Central staff, there are wildly different opinions on any new release. Our reviews are contemplative, but they don’t necessarily speak to the entire lot of writers writ large. People feel differently about different things, and that’s okay, even if I’d go to bat for Child’s Play 2 any day (and I have).

What stands out the most to me is OP’s contention that they almost missed out on Stewart Hendler’s Sorority Row because of the Rotten Tomatoes score, so let me drop the best nugget of wisdom I’ve learned as a horror fan over the years—watch what you want to watch. There are acclaimed horror movies, including a 2023 favorite, that didn’t work for me at all. Conversely, I used to spotlight allegedly “Rotten” horror movies that ranked among my favorites. Python, The Invasion, and The Empty Man are among them. If I’d made my decisions based on a review aggregator, I’d never have seen them.

To be fair, the broad impulse is understandable. There’s a lot of stuff out there, and finding the time for it all is hard. This past weekend, I streamed both Swimfan and Opera after spending twenty minutes each night deciding what to watch. I understand the desire to optimize our time and ensure we only watch the good stuff. But art isn’t meant to be optimized, and even bad art—the things we don’t enjoy—has value. They expand our awareness and knowledge of the genre, of filmmaking as a form, even if they’re rotten—even if the critics and audiences hated them.

What do you think? What horror movie do you love that scores low on Rotten Tomatoes? Let me know over on Twitter @Chadiscollins where I’ll probably be tweeting about whatever rotten slasher I watch that day.


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