If you read this site with any regularity, by now you’re probably familiar with the comedic stylings of New York Observer film critic Rex Reed, who we famously dubbed “the Hydrox Armond White,” which seems unfair, though I’m not sure to whom. This was even before he made headlines for calling Melissa McCarthy “tractor-sized” and “a hippo” in his Identity Thief review and then refused to apologize for it. Phew! ANYWAY, this week, the future Player Hater’s Ball Lifetime Achievement Award recipient made headlines again for his review of V/H/S 2, the headline of which was “G/T/F/O: V/H/S/2 Is Unwatchable From Start to Finish.”
Mmm, that’s some exquisite hate-punning. But basically what we’ve come to expect from Rex Reed, right? Why the outrage this time? Well, with a description like “unwatchable from start to finish,” you’d think the guy had actually sat through the whole thing, which he apparently hadn’t. Here’s the review in its entirety:
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.
Hate, hate, hate, hate, hate…
I haven’t seen V/H/S 2 myself, but I’m gleaning from the outrage that the segment Reed describes checking out after occurs in the first 20 minutes of the film. That is some fine trolling, Mr. Reed, please tell me you have “HATER” monogrammed in script on that jaunty… scarf? Kerchief? Anyway, the troll job seems to be working:
Indiewire: “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? ….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.”
Drew McWeeny of Hitfix: “In typical Rex Reed fashion, he gets it wrong and doesn’t seem to understand what he saw.”
Scott Weinberg for Movies.com: “Rex Reed has repeatedly proven himself to be an affront to the profession of film criticism. …Rex Reed is a gossip columnist with delusions of insight, and on behalf of all my colleagues, I’d like to ask this professional troll to give up on movies and find a job he enjoys. I hear TMZ is hiring.”
Eric Kohn, Indiewire: “Too bad Rex Reed bailed on VHS 2 after its first short. He missed the Gareth Evans one!”
And of course countless calls for the Observer to fire Reed, which will continue to pour in throughout the day. Aw, but he used “purloin” as a noun! You can’t find that kind of word-jitsu just anywhere!
Me, I appreciate Rex Reed as a prickish, fusty shit-stirrer. The question at hand is, is a critic obligated to stay for the entire film? I generally try to finish even the films I hate, but I don’t think my opinion of, say, A Glimpse Inside the Mind of Charles Swan III would’ve changed any if I’d turned it off after 10 minutes like I wanted to. It took me eight sittings to finish that awful bore. In a way, sitting through a movie that everything in you is telling you to walk out of just because you’re getting paid to review it is sort of putting false parameters on viewership. It’s like reviewing it under false pretenses. I usually finish the films anyway out of respect, or else I don’t write the review. But if you’re trying to put yourself in the shoes of the average viewer, and your honest reaction is to walk out, shouldn’t you do that? I’m okay with critics leaving early, as long as they’re completely honest about it. Rex Reed was honest in the review, but the headline was a lie. And it’s unclear whether he wrote the headline.
Anyway, I don’t have a strong opinion one way or the other about whether he should be fired. There are a million terrible film critics out there. My favorite thing about Rex Reed is the time MTV’s Josh Horowitz went to a screening of Miami Vice and wrote about how Rex Reed got stuck between the seat cushions:
My eyes were now trained on an older gentleman sprawled out across a few seats. As near as I can tell he had been trying to crawl over one seat to get into the empty one behind me. In the middle of said stealth operation the man got BOTH OF HIS LEGS CAUGHT IN BETWEEN THE SEATS. There he was groaning and wheezing, struggling to free his legs as if his very life depended on it (I was there-it did). He was sprawled in such a way that he was clutching the back of my seat for support hence my necessary involvement in this emergency. It was then that I realized that the gentleman in this unfortunate predicament was Rex Reed. [Gawker]
[banner image via Getty]