Rex Reed Still World's Worst Film Critic

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by Sam Adams
July 10, 2013 10:22 AM
32 Comments
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The movie reviews of Rex Reed inspire fierce debate: Questions like, Is he the worst critic alive, or the worst critic in history? Is he a terrible writer, or a terrible person who happens to write? Is he a a greater waste of column inches or oxygen?

Reed's latest affront to the profession -- of which he may be counted a practitioner only on account of the fact that he was not always an affront to sentient life -- is his review of V/H/S 2, which he reviewed after walking out somewhere in the first 20 minutes. (I say "walking out" even though Magnolia, which distributed the film, regularly provides DVDs to critics, since I'm unsure how Reed would operate a player without opposable thumbs.) Granted, it must be hard for any movie to hold Reed's attention that does not promptly offer him an opportunity to deride an actresses's physical size, but even so, it takes serious cojones to bail on a four-part anthology film having seen the work of only one of its directors and still review it.

Reed's review is short, so Criticwire is reproducing it in full, in part because at this point it's clear that the New York Observer is simply running Reed for the hate-clicks: The subhead, which reads "V/H/S 2 is unwatchable from start to finish" amounts to a juvenile taunt. Frankly, I'm reluctant to give any further attention to a writer who draws a paycheck for making a mockery of a noble profession while intelligent critics scramble for crumbs all around him. (I know it's hard to find qualified film critics in New York. Maybe try throwing a rock at the next Film Forum screening.) But seriously, this has to stop.

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 [sic] 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.

Read more: G/T/F/O: V/H/S 2 is unwatchable from start to finish

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More: In the Reeds, Reviews, V/H/S

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32 Comments

  • wesandersonsux | September 18, 2013 4:13 PMReply

    Ppl under 30 can't come to terms with (or even comprehend) how us older ppl cannot stand their fully corporatized culture. Bravo Rex Reed for pointing out the humongous flaws of contemporary cinema.

  • Andrea Ostrov Letania | July 12, 2013 6:49 PMReply

    You gotta admit that his style is very very gay.

  • Jacob | July 12, 2013 10:13 AMReply

    Storm in a teacup? Every few weeks there's a new online drama that the blogosphere is supposed to be outraged by. I suppose talentless writers have to find something to blog about between their weekly trashing of M. Night Shyamalan and occasional posts proclaiming Christopher Nolan as the saviour of the Hollywood blockbuster. So, is Rex Reed the world's worst critic? Hard to say. At a time when genuine film criticism is pretty much dead (or at least as far as the mainstream culture goes), any two-bit gossip columnist with a sponsored blog and a copy of The Great Movies by Roger Ebert can roll their sleeves up and start spouting off their own uninformed opinion as it were a fact. Scores, ranking and consensus have long since replaced individual analysis and interpretation and reviewers (I refuse to call them critics) are more than ever playing to the tastes of the masses. It's almost as if they're too afraid to go against the majority or show any kind of personality for fear of incurring a backlash against their site. If Reed is the worst critic, you only have to look at Rotten Tomatoes to find his legacy of bitchy putdowns, uninformed hype and pure egomania is positively thriving.

  • Jeremiah | July 11, 2013 2:00 PMReply

    Reed's review isn't all that bad -- pretty much captures how I felt after watching the first V/H/S film (although I've read the second is far superior). I think the problem isn't this review, but previous reviews. Last year, he panned CABIN IN THE WOODS, and his review revealed tons of inaccuracies about the film -- it was later claimed by those at the same screening, that Reed was actually sleeping during much of the movie. Certainly, it would seem he is at a point in his career when he is tired, jaded, and done, but doesn't want to leave it behind.

  • Arch | July 11, 2013 4:47 AMReply

    The guy at Dreadcentral covered this too, making a sort of point by point analysis of the "review".
    It makes em look a bit picky but it may be an interesting read somehow : dreadcentral.com/news/68477/rex-reed-vhs2-and-journalism-101

  • Arch | July 11, 2013 4:50 AM

    That said , yeah I'm not sure Reed deserves more attention... and I'm not sure V/H/S 2 does either.

  • Rob Morris | July 11, 2013 1:21 AMReply

    Thanks. I read Indiewire about once a year. Diatribes like yours serve as a reminder to steer clear for another 12 months.

    See yah next July!

  • David | July 10, 2013 4:26 PMReply

    Really? Worse than Armond White? Jeffrey Wells? He must reeeeeeeeeeeeally suck.

  • GK | July 10, 2013 3:34 PMReply

    The world's worst film critic is David Ehrenstein, obviously. Oh wait, he's not really a critic - really he's just the internet's most ubiquitous and annoying presence. And one of the world's worst spellers.

    By the way, I know some people in the USA, people who would KNOW and I can tell you all that is a well-known fact among people in the USA that Ehrenstein is straight.

  • Paul John | July 10, 2013 4:30 PM

    Yes, yes, yes. I am constantly rolling my eyes at him and he seems to be everywhere I go.

  • Marlon Wallace | July 10, 2013 2:51 PMReply

    My question to Sam Adams is how do you know that Rex Reed "literally" walked out before finishing the whole movie? Are you basing his walking out on the second-t0-last line in the review? Was an interview published from a reputable news source that claimed he literally walked out before finishing it, or did you actually call Rex Reed and confirm that that's what he did? The second-to-last line could be figurative and not literal, so if you're basing this whole article on what you infer that second-to-last line means, then I can't answer the questions in Sam's first paragraph, but questions of how good a reporter Sam is now enter my mind, unless he has more to the story that he simply didn't post here.

  • Brian Clark | July 10, 2013 6:16 PM

    One of the filmmakers, Eduardo Sanchez, reports on Facebook that he didn't even show up at all. You don't get to walk out if you don't show up!

  • Sam Adams | July 10, 2013 4:50 PM

    Reed said he "deserted" which is not a figurative term, and he gets basic details wrong about the later segments (none of which is about "psycho kidnappers") so I take him at his word.

  • David Ehrenstein | July 10, 2013 11:58 AMReply

    In a Fanboy dominated culture Rex is FAR from the "worst" anything. That he walked out and/ or turned off a film he loathed and then wrote about the experience is the very definition of a serious critic's job.

  • WESANDERSONSUX | September 18, 2013 4:20 PM

    A very big part of a movie is not just the content, but making someone WANT to watch it; so walking out or turning it off is a valid critical standpoint. Fanboys blinded by their fandome, however, is NOT a valid critical standpoint. Defensive much?

  • Scott Beggs | July 10, 2013 1:34 PM

    You can eat two bites of a sandwich and call it garbage. You can't do that with a movie. If he had written a piece about why he walked out, that would be interesting, but instead he slathered the review with vague, contextless tripe that isn't helpful to a reader in anyway.

    And the factual inaccuracies...is there any other film critic that's consistently wrong about basic facts in movies that still holds his/her job?

  • Bill Thompson | July 10, 2013 12:06 PM

    No, it's the very definition of not doing a serious critic's job. His job is to watch movies and critique them. In this instance he only fulfilled one of the very meager requirements of his job. He's getting paid to watch movies and write about them, it's the height of being unprofessional to write a review about a film that you didn't bother to finish.

  • Arthur Redko | July 10, 2013 11:45 AMReply

    I don't know, I think Eric Kohn gives him a run for his money...

  • Nathan | July 10, 2013 11:38 AMReply

    If 'VHS 2' had included a segment populated by stuffy Brits playing royals, he might have stuck it out.

  • Barkley | July 10, 2013 11:33 AMReply

    I like Reed's review. It is minima, and to the point, to labor on about an idiotic gore fest film is beneath most critics....right? He is basically saying, "if this floats your boat, but all means, enjoy..." I am among who will not bother to watch VHS 2, I have enough VHS tapes I donated to the library long ago

  • KM | August 10, 2013 6:32 AM

    I agree with your commit. I look forward to Mr. Reed's reviews. Short and to the point and I appreciate the little known gems he reviews that don't have the resources to really advertise. Not that I agree 100% with him on all reviews but he does know a thing or two about the genre and to inform the public as such.

  • Bill Thompson | July 10, 2013 12:07 PM

    How does he know that it's an idiotic gore fest since he didn't bother watching all of the movie? But, more to the point, it's not beneath any critic to review any film, and if a critic starts thinking as such then it's time for him/her to find a new profession.

  • Dan Heaton | July 10, 2013 11:25 AMReply

    It's hard to get even riled up about Reed, who is so far off the rails that it's comical. Still, he's being paid to write about movies, so what he does makes all film critics look bad. And that's really unfortunate.

  • Bill Thompson | July 10, 2013 11:15 AMReply

    As I said last time the subject of walking out of a film was broached on this site, there's no reason for a paid film critic to walk out of a film. He gets paid to do a job, and he needs to actually do it. This would be the equivalent of me ignoring a patients complaints of chest pain because "I already know all I need to know from the first five words you told me, so you're fine."

    I'm nowhere near a professional critic, but even in my small, and never visited, corner of the critical world I manage to finish every single film I write about. There's no reason that anyone writing about a film shouldn't finish the film. Even outside of the he's being paid to do it argument, it's simple courtesy to stay and watch a work of art that a group of people poured their time and effort into.

  • Tom Sutpen | July 10, 2013 10:55 AMReply

    "Maybe try throwing a rock at the next Film Forum screening"

    " . . . and do me a favor, Fink. Throw it hard."

    I would add that Pauline Kael wrote a much longer, negative and quite dismissive review of Bob Rafelson's 'Head' after having walked out of it midway through.

    I mention this only to point out that such occurrences are not unknown.

    (Noble profession? Seriously??)

  • Sam Adams | July 10, 2013 11:32 AM

    I agree, somewhat guardedly, over whatever critic said "You don't have to eat the whole apple to know it's rotten." But this is four different apples, which is not the same thing. As for "noble profession," when it's done right, hell yes.

  • spassky | July 10, 2013 10:51 AMReply

    Thank you, Sam. Looking forward to your tenure as editor here.

    In other news, my least favorite people: Ed Rendell, Tom Corbett, and Rex Reed. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if they turned out to be the SAME self-exceptionalizing, fat, intolerant white guy.

  • spassky | July 10, 2013 10:53 AM

    "psycho kidnappers"

    Maybe, just maybe, this is proof that Reed is actually just a self-exceptionalizing, fat, rapacious, intolerant alien guy.

  • Will MacAdam | July 10, 2013 10:47 AMReply

    I've always viewed Rex Reed as a gossip columnist who happily expresses his personal uninformed opinion about films when anyone will give him the time or space. Just a notch above Rhona Barrett and below Liz Smith, NOBODY takes his criticism seriously. He's a glorified fan who saw his dream job come true. He knows what he likes and he pontificates whenever possible. But seriously, to react with alarm at anything his says is just a waste of time and energy.

  • Jacob | July 12, 2013 10:28 AM

    - "I've always viewed Rex Reed as a gossip columnist who happily expresses his personal uninformed opinion about films when anyone will give him the time or space."

    So, just like the majority of bloggers then. Oh for a world where film critics have actually studied film (and film theory) and are able to offer more than just imitation Ebert. It would also help if the average reviewer had a knowledge of movies that extends beyond the IMDb top 250. Only then can we move beyond the current trend that seems to think a plot synopsis followed by a snarky, hyperbolic opinion somehow constitutes actual film criticism. Then maybe we can get rid of that cancerous site Rotten Tomatoes as well, and encourage audiences to approach movies as more than just experiences, "good" or "bad", but as something to be studied, analysed and critiqued by the viewer (as opposed to some unseen, impersonal consensus).

  • Justin Jagoe | July 10, 2013 10:47 AMReply

    Interesting how Mr. Reed knew that 'V/H/S/2' was "unwatchable from start to finish," despite apparently walking out a mere 20 minutes in.

  • David Ehrenstein | July 10, 2013 12:01 PM

    "From start to finish" meaning from where he started to where he decided to finish. Simple really.

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