Film reviews have varying effects on moviegoers

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Photo Credit: Steph Sonik | Daily Texan Staff

Moviegoers often take into account reviews before seeing a film, but for some it may not have that big of an effect.

Critics have served as gatekeepers of the movie industry for decades. Gone are the days when trailers were the sole factor in the decision to see a film. Various genres of film place different emphasis on reviews. Horror fans may award little consideration to reviews due to the subjectivity of what is considered “scary” or effective, while drama fans might prefer deep critical analysis and critique.

When it comes to film reviews, certain people seek opinions only for films of specific genres. Jazmyn Bencik, a member of the Austin Horror Society, said she will only take reviews into account for specific films.

“If it’s something that’s more serious, like ‘Slumdog Millionaire,’ I tend to kind of read over reviews, maybe see what it’s a little bit about,” Bencik said. “I love horror movies, I love musicals, I love stupid Will Ferrell comedies. I don’t really care what the critics say when it comes to that.”

Many believe certain critics are biased when it comes to specific genres, which can lead to a general public distrust of their opinions. Chemical engineering senior Jacob Stehsel said critics often downplay the horror and comedy genres.

“Those two (genres) are just very subjective (because of) what you find scary or funny,” Stehsel said. “Sometimes there are (movies) that critics are enjoying but audiences absolutely hated.”

Another reason fans may ignore critical reception is the crew attached to the film. Stehsel said he will see a film regardless of critical reception if reliable artists are involved.

“If it’s a director I like or actors I enjoy — screenwriters … like Tarantino and David Fincher — I tend to go watch those regardless of what critics say,” Stehsel said.

As online critic communities become more prevalent, some believe the business aspect can skew opinions. Bob White, a theatre and dramatic arts graduate from Howard Payne University, said when money is involved, he has doubts about credibility.

“I agree with (prescreening for general audiences) because then you’re getting word from real people, not from people who are paid to give their word,” White said. “When there’s money involved, there’s always a bend.”

Although reviews tend to sway people away from theaters, some end up watching the film regardless. Josh Atkins, an army veteran and avid film fan, said reviews often turn him off from a film only temporarily.

“There’s the off chance that you won’t agree with them, so I don’t take their word for it 100 percent of the time,” Atkins said.

Overall, the movie industry has only garnered more attention through critics and press. Its objective value varies among genres, as does patrons’ level of consideration. Atkins said the experience of seeing a movie will always be a valuable part of life despite reviews.

“It’s a way to escape a daily routine of life,” Atkins said. “We all have all these obligations and things we have to do every day.”