As some of you know, last year I was invited (along with four other online writers) to visit the sets of Fox Atomic's 28 Weeks Later (in London) and The Hills Have Eyes 2 (in Morocco). Needless to say, this trip was a great adventure. I made some new friends, saw two great countries, and got to watch a pair of horror sequels being made. I came back enthused, eventually wrote up a few "set report" articles for JoBlo.com, and sat back to look forward to the flicks.
Since I now do reviews for Comcast's FEARnet website, I was assigned Hills 2. It didn't screen for the press, so I gladly drove down to the local multiplex on opening day, spent my $7.50, and settled in for the film. And. I. hated. it. I didn't want to! I knew it'd probably be mindless horror crap, but I enjoy several movies that could be described that way. As the first 25 minutes ticked by, I found myself trying to WILL myself into enjoying the movie. But I just couldn't do it. I had visions of all the awesome people I met and the slick sights I discovered while on that Moroccan set visit, but the plain and simple truth is this: I realllllly disliked The Hills Have Eyes 2. (Here's my review at FEARnet.)
Now, this is a new one for me. I know that lots of entertainment journalists spend time on movie sets, but I don't really consider myself an "entertainment journalist." Sure, I do a lot of flick-blathering on Cinematical, but my job title (as far as I'm concerned) is that of "film critic." (I hate the phrase "film critic," because it kind of implies that one WANTS to criticize. Perhaps I'm more of a "movie advocate" or "flick consultant.") And now I see, as clear as day, why film critics should NOT participate in publicity events. Set visits, pre-release interviews, junkets ... they all exist as a form of movie marketing, and while I have no problem at all with movie marketing, I just don't think that film critics -- folks asked to provide their totally honest (and informed) opinion of a finished film -- should spend time on these activities. Or maybe some of 'em can. But I sure hope I don't get asked back to future "set visits." The passionate movie geek in me will want to jump at the opportunity, but the professional guy, the guy who sincerely needs his opinions to be trusted, respected, and valued, will have to pass on those offers.
Needless to say, this review was insanely hard to write. Here's hoping 28 Weeks Later is a better movie. I can't handle all this guilt.