Saturday, September 22, 2007

My first bad review

From the IMDB's user comments on my USC thesis film, "Sleep in Heavenly Peace":

Amateurish and overdoses on violence, 30 August 2007

Saw this as part of the True West Cinema Festival. Amateurish even for a student film. Someone has apparently knelt down and worshiped at the movie Hostel and Eli Roth because it is a rip off of that torture porn film. Violence for the sake of violence. It isn't a enjoyable to see on screen minute by minute of gore and blood. The director and writers should watch some Hitchcock and some old school horror directors before they waste their time again with this genre. The acting may have been the saving grace of the film if the director would have let the actors go. Instead it focuses on gore and blood and everything else that is included in the now boring torture porn genre. Bowd Beal does commendable work as the lead but is almost ruined by his co stars work. Anastasia Zavaro may be one of the worst actresses to grace a screen this year. All in all a terrible film. Not worth anyones trouble.

I was surprised at how much this stung, although I guess I shouldn't have been - I've certainly dished out my share of bad reviews of movies in the last few years. I don't want to embarass myself by directly responding to the critique the same way Michael Bay did this summer with Transformers when he made reference to how much his good friend Steven Spielberg enjoyed the movie, except to say that my film is not for everybody.

The thing that annoys me most about this review is the phrase 'amateurish even for a student film', which I think is objectively incorrect. One could find legitimate things to criticize in my writing, my choice of where to put the camera, or the way the performances are directed. But the technical aspects of the film - cinematography, production design, makeup, editing, and sound design - are all certainly of professional quality, and range from good to very good, in my humble opinion. In addition, my film has no on-screen violence and less than three minutes of blood or gore out of its 15:40 total.

So my overall point is, I just wish this review was better-written. I would urge anyone who's seen the film, regardless of their opinion, to post a comment on IMDB or here.

Oh, also the film will next be seen at the Eerie Horror Festival in Erie, Pennsylvania on October 14.


cjKennedy said...

Aside from a stunning lack of talent for making movies, this is the kind of thing that has kept me away from filmmaking.

I don't think I could take the slings and arrows.

I have to admit it takes stones for you to say "Hey look everyone, someone thinks I suck!"

I can't argue with the guy's gut reaction (though I don't share it), but he didn't do a very good job of supporting it. His reasons for the negative review don't really fit.

If anything, I think it could've used more blood, not less. Something approaching (but not quite reaching) a Monty Python level of exaggeration would've juiced the thing a little.

Piper said...


I have to say I have just finished watching your short and this reviewer was way off on his/her review. For ego sake it's probably good of you to say this stings, but to compare your short with Torture Porn should have caused you to dismiss this review all together. And to not even mention the dark humor of it all means tells me that this reviewer was devoid of all humor.

Anyway, very nice work. Not amateurish in the least.

Jeff McMahon said...

It's entirely possible that the reviewer mentioned 'torture porn' simply to annoy me.

Besides, if my short resembles any Eli Roth film it would be Cabin Fever, which is not in that alleged subgenre anyway.