Rex Reed, V/H/S/2, and Journalism 101

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Rex Reed, V/H/S/2, and Journalism 101Last night one of my fellow journalists, Scott Weinberg, tweeted something about film critic Rex Reed and the horror anthology V/H/S/2. Intrigued, I hit the link to check out Reed’s review. What I found was shocking… but not because of Reed’s opinion.

Reed, who’s been a film critic for many years, now writes for The New York Observer, a well respected publication. Allow me to quote from Reed’s review of the film. Well, you know what? Allow me to quote Reed’s entire review of V/H/S/2 as it’s only a single paragraph long.

“In this indescribably gory, violent, plotless and deranged purloin of every horror movie ever made by amateurs with a wobbly, nauseating handheld camera, seven unknown directors hell-bent on remaining that way enter a dark, deserted house containing a pile of VHS tapes. One by one, they insert the tapes, and onto the screen flash five episodic creep shows involving a mountain biker pursued by flesh-eating zombies, a cult of Satan worshipers and a sleepover invaded by psycho kidnappers told from the perspective of a GoPro camera attached to the back of a dog. V/H/S/2 is a diabolically psychotic, sub-mental and completely unwatchable disaster that I happily deserted when a man with a retinal implant scooped out his bionic eye with a sharp object, splattering blood all over the camera. Your move, and you’re welcome to it.”

Now, honestly? If he had written the above with the intent of it being one paragraph because in his opinion the entire film was only worthy of a few words, that would be one thing, but there are so many errors in his review it’s hard to ignore them. Let’s address the two most glaring first, shall we?

“seven unknown directors hell-bent on remaining that way”

  • Simon Barrett – V/H/S, You’re Next, A Horrible Way to Die – Every single one of those films was met with critical acclaim.
  • Jason Eisener – Hobo With a Shotgun – A film that resurrected Rutger Hauer’s career and was met with a very warm reception amongst critics and fans alike.
  • Gareth Evans – The Raid: Redemption – This was universally hailed as one of the greatest action films of all time.
  • Gregg Hale, Eduardo Sánchez – I suppose Reed has never heard of one of the most profitable films ever made, The Blair Witch Project.
  • Timo Tjahjanto – Macabre, The ABCs of Death – Could it be that Reed avoids films with subtitles? That would require extra effort on his part after all.
  • Adam Wingard – Oh, wait. He’s associated with Simon Barrett and has worked on many productions with him. There’s no chance of Reed having a clue who he is.

    Now, I can understand (with all due respect to the concerned parties) Reed not knowing some of the filmmakers mentioned above, especially those who have just recently come into their own, but the co-director of The Blair Witch Project? A film that’s been emulated for nearly two decades? This is film ignorance personified.

    “a sleepover invaded by psycho kidnappers”

    What Reed is referring to here is Jason Eisener’s “Slumber Party Alien Abduction.” There are no psycho kidnappers involved at all. This is something Reed would have easily noticed had he just, oh, I don’t know… done what he’s paid for and what his publication expects of him.

    Even more troubling, Reed states in his review that he deserted the film after an incident involving a retinal implant. Why troubling? That scene takes place only twenty minutes into the movie. So here’s my question: How in good conscience could Reed possibly deem himself worthy of writing a review if he also admits that he bailed on the flick early on? He gives it 0/4 stars. On what basis? Okay, so maybe he didn’t like the first segment; does that mean he should be allowed to use it as a measuring stick to judge the rest of the film?

    This is nothing short of lazy journalism that is disrespectful to not only the filmmakers but also his readers, who look to him for well-thought-out opinions, his peers, and The New York Observer, which obviously, and probably obliviously, continues to pay Reed’s salary for a job he just doesn’t do. Now don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying Reed should be fired, nor am I trying to defame him, but at the very least he should go back and watch the entire film before being allowed to pass judgment on it.

    There are people working in the industry from professionals to amateur folks trying to eek out a living like myself that do not get nearly the pay nor the notoriety to do the same job Reed does and at the very least do it to the best of their ability. The only difference is that most, if not all, of us respect the craft and feel lucky that we have a place to share our opinions with the public whether they are agreed with or not. Reed’s review of V/H/S/2 is disrespectful, insulting, half-assed, and fails to even meet the most general of journalistic rules… you know them as “Who, What, Where, When, and Why?” Reed has unwittingly underlined just about everything that is wrong with journalism today in one short, ill-informed paragraph. Hell, maybe if he would have at least read the entire press release for the flick correctly, he could have gotten the segment descriptions right.

    In closing, let me leave you with the headline of Reed’s “review“…

    V/H/S/2 Is Unwatchable From Start to Finish

    You may have started, sir, but you certainly didn’t finish. You should be ashamed of yourself.

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  • Steve Barton

    You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.

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    • conundrum

      This is simply explained by the fact that as far as I can tell, Rex Reed is a hack. Simple as that. He is obsessed with blaming what he doesn’t like in movies on video games, whether it makes any sense contextually or not. He hated “Cabin in the Woods” partially because the twist was that it was all an elaborate video game people were playing for the sake of gambling, and partially for other things he made up that didn’t happen in the movie.

      Let me post his summary of the plot of “Pacific Rim.” There’s no need for a spoiler warning, since it doesn’t actually describe what happens in the movie.

      “The last surviving pilot to operate inside a Jaeger is a man named Becket […] Joining forces with an untrained Japanese rookie (Rinko Kikuchi), Becket launches a 2,400-pound mega-nuclear bomb against the remainder of the underwater Kaijus from inside an outdated, condemned Jaeger that is ready for the junk pile.”

      I’ve never read a review from Reed where he gives an accurate enough description of the movie to prove that he actually watched it and didn’t just make stuff up based on trailers and half-listened to conversations of people who actually saw the movie. He is a hack.

    • MichaelRAllen

      It sounds like it was that time of the month for Reed. What a douche.

    • Terminal

      I find the whole “Unknown directors” comment ridiculous and more insulting than anything in the “review.” That asshole Armond White’s been reviewing movies he hasn’t seen for years and is still considered a very esteemed movie critic. At least admit you walked out and don’t want to review it. Shit.

      “seven unknown directors hell-bent on remaining that way enter a dark, deserted house containing a pile of VHS tapes.”

      That’s not even the plot, douchebag. This is why movie goers continue to demonize movie critics.

    • LSD Zombie

      I would have more respect for Reed if he just came out and admitted that he’s never liked the horror genre. He’s been slamming horror movies since the original TCM. For whatever reason, when a horror film actually lives up to the word HORROR, it gets trashed by every film critic out there. This kind of bullshit needs to stop. It’s like shitting on a comedy because it made you laugh.