Thursday, October 23, 2014

This Week In Dumb Criticism

So, director Eduardo Sanchez has just released a new film - a found-footage Bigfoot film called Exists. This isn't really on my radar because I'm not big on Bigfoot films and I find myself getting pickier and pickier about found-footage films in general. So it's the sort of thing I'd give a miss anyway.

But that's not really the point. The point was that I found out about this film from a review on the Onion's A.V. Club site. The writer opens by pointing out that Sanchez was one of the directors who made The Blair Witch Project, a fine piece of filmmaking. Okay, fine. The writer doesn't like Exists, and though I find the criticism a little condescending ("the human meat isn't very interesting", "A number of movies use monsters as metaphors for larger ills, but Exists works best when it’s just offering up cheap thrills to match its intentionally (if still shoddily) cheap look."), what bugs me the most is the way the writer winds up their review by basically saying that Sanchez has ended up, and I quote, "a pretender to his own throne."

Which would make sense if Exists were Sanchez's return to directing after The Blair Witch Project, but it fucking isn't. In between his directing debut and his most recent film, he's made three other feature films and contributed a short to V/H/S/2. I've written about three of these four efforts here myself - Seventh Moon was interesting and atmospheric, if a little inert in some ways, his short from V/H/S/2 was kind of goofy and artificial, and Lovely Molly was fucking great, one of my favorite horror films from this decade. Sure, only the short uses the found-footage conceit, but that doesn't stop this writer from completely eliding this guy's interim creative output to put a smug little flourish on the end of his review. It's just amateur-hour shit, and as much as I like the A.V. Club for entertainment news in general, their treatment of horror has often been as predictable and patronizing as so many other mainstream outlets - unless, of course, it's a name director involved, in which case there's every chance it'll get a good review, because everyone loves a high-profile director slumming it. I don't know what I expected, but I at least think a cursory glance at Sanchez's IMDB page would have been in order before hanging the whole hook on the first thing the guy ever did.

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