- Many horror movies receive unjust criticism, often due to misconceptions or unrealistic expectations from audiences and critics.
- Some heavily criticized horror films actually have strong elements worthy of praise, such as intricate plots, central performances, and creative kills.
- The horror genre is diverse, and movies should be appreciated for their unique tones, objectives, and subversions of traditional horror tropes.
It’s fairly common for horror movies to receive blunt criticism, but some truly do not deserve it. Many horror movies are criticized for being poor reproductions, often relying on cheap effects and jump scares to deliver their depicted horrors. However, even these heavily critiqued films often contain elements worthy of praise.
The horror genre is littered with movies met with harsh reviews and excessive criticism. Many of these have been condemned unjustly, either because mainstream critics could not see past the oblique visual style or because audiences entirely missed the point.
The Saw franchise has been criticized harshly for its extreme use of gore and violence. Many critics have dismissed the movies as torture porn, designed purely for shock and revulsion. However, the Saw movies, particularly the earlier installments, feature an intricate plot that’s incredibly gripping and arguably the strength of the franchise. The later Saw movies drift toward excessive torture scenes and grisly deaths, but the first Saw uses these things to punctuate a genuinely brilliant central narrative (and several of its follow-ups do the same).
9 The Human Centipede (First Sequence)
The Human Centipede (First Sequence) was criticized for entirely the wrong reasons. Many decried the 2009 movie for its incredibly graphic nature and repulsive central plot. However, The Human Centipede‘s controversial reputation was unjustified, as the movie was only really revolting in concept. The actual graphic depiction of the human centipede was more implicit than explicit, and hardened horror audiences felt it was something of an anticlimax. The sequel, however, was every bit as disgusting as has been suggested. The Human Centipede 2: Full Sequence received mixed reactions, but it’s arguably the stronger movie, with a central performance that has been praised despite negative reviews.
8 The Village
The Village was harshly critiqued upon its release. This was primarily because The Village‘s ending twist, which many found underwhelming. This response was rather unfair, though, as it was seemingly motivated by the expectation that director M. Night Shyamalan would recapture the enthralling, revelatory endings of his previous movies. After the success of The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs, remarkable twists were expected from Shyamalan’s movies. The Village was derided for not delivering one of comparable gravity. Watching The Village with this expectation removed reveals a subtle and terrifying horror movie that centers tone and atmosphere over cheap thrills.
7 Bride Of Chucky
Critics of Bride of Chucky seem to have grossly misinterpreted the franchise’s tone and objectives. Many dismissed the movie as cartoonish and lacking a serious tone. However, Bride of Chucky was designed as a turning point in the series, intended to bring it toward meta, campy humor — and it delivered perfectly. Bride of Chucky features some of the franchise’s most creative kills, as well as the iconic first appearance of Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany, the titular bride of Chucky. Arguably, the reasons that Bride of Chucky was criticized are precisely the reasons it has become one of the best Child’s Play movies in the franchise.
6 The Devils
Ken Russell’s 1971 historical horror drama The Devils received a swathe of negative reviews, many of which focused on the explicit nudity in the film. The Devils is a horror movie based on a true story, which itself is littered with over-sexualized and shocking behavior. The critics who decry The Devils for exhibiting a high degree of nudity clearly do not understand the source material. Furthermore, this commentary does not address the movie’s startling visuals and central performances, which should earn The Devils much higher esteem than it enjoyed. Unfortunately, the preoccupation with nudity completely overshadowed the rest of the movie.
5 Final Destination
It’s rather surprising that Final Destination was harshly criticized upon its 2000 release. The movie has garnered a cult following, which established a long-running franchise spanning five movies. Early critics condemned the movie’s premise and teenage target audience. Such feedback speaks to the cultural elitism and derision that’s plagued the horror genre since its inception. Many mainstream movie critics dismiss horror all too readily, and Final Destination is the perfect example of this. Regardless of the initial response to the first film, Final Destination 6 has been confirmed.
4 The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 might be the most underrated horror movie ever. Tobe Hooper made the sequel primarily to address the original’s legacy. Hooper felt the humor of the original was lost and wished to produce a sequel more in line with his vision. Critics subsequently attacked The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 for lacking a desire to be taken seriously. The sequel was widely criticized for failing to maintain the tone and level of quality of its predecessor. A sequel was never going to match these expectations, but instead, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 offers a delightfully absurd elaboration, with many equally memorable scenes
The 2001 slasher movie Valentine is another horror release that was very harshly criticized when it first hit theaters. The most prevalent suggestion was that Valentine did not feature enough scares or suspense. However, the central murder mystery plot is incredibly enthralling, with a surprising reveal at the movie’s conclusion that makes it far more worthy of praise than it received. The central performances are all deftly delivered, with a series of innovative death sequences that deserve substantially higher praise. Valentine is ultimately a slasher movie that adheres to the subgenre’s formula, but it achieves it much more effectively than critics assert.
2 Jennifer’s Body
Jennifer’s Body bombed after its 2009 release. Many critics dismissed the movie as Twilight for boys, proposing that the central narrative only perpetuated the heterosexual male fantasy commonplace in horror. In fact, Jennifer’s Body was wildly ahead of its time, offering a true feminist horror movie. Perhaps this is the reason it received such wide criticism on its release, with mainstream audiences caught off guard by its patriarchy-challenging narrative. Thankfully, Jennifer’s Body has been reconsidered by modern audiences and critics alike, and its themes and subversion of tired horror tropes have been lauded in recent years.
1 Hellraiser 3: Hell On Earth
Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth marked a turning point in the Hellraiser franchise, and many noted its distinct dip in quality. Critics described the movie as goofy and uninspired, suggesting it was devoid of creator Clive Barker’s creative genius. This reputation, however, is completely unfair. Hellraiser 3: Hell on Earth might feature some slightly bizarre cenobites, but the central story is still robust, with a particularly animated performance from Doug Jones as Pinhead. As is typically the case with horror sequels, it was hard to recapture the magic of the original movies, but the harsh criticism levied at the sequel was unnecessarily harsh.