Alright guys, I know this interview might sound self-referential and uninteresting to some, but my buddy Jimmy Ray Davis has asked me if he could interview me, as a professional film critic, for his Facebook group.
Thus, I thought it would be about time to give my readers (an average of 10k people a month) and followers (778) an overview of my work and what drives me in reviewing horror movies.
Jimmy said he’s no professional journalist (even though he’s better than most actual journos), but his questions were awesome and pertinent, so we decided together not to change any of them and I assure you I replied to each one of them as honestly as I could. Hope you’ll enjoy!
- You are obviously a huge fan of horror films. What was the first film you saw that “hooked” you to the genre for life?
Alien (1979) and Event Horizon (1997): as a kid, I was fascinated by Sci-fi movies and these two titles introduced me to the horror genre. I loved them so much that I wanted to check more and more horror movies, whether they involved science-fiction elements or not. I ended up loving straight-up horror films more than everything else!
- Growing up in an environment unfamiliar to those of your fans in the States what was your exposure to horror and was there a subculture to fuel your passion?
Great question. Well, I grew up in Italy, where horror movies are usually considered a taboo. Since I always had the attitude of going against the grain, I started to watch as many horror flicks as possible. Once I moved to Boston and got the chance to live there for a while, my love for the genre became even stronger… you guys in the US are lucky, you theatres are filled with horror films and your cities with indie festivals!
- Anyone who reads your reviews knows you are not just a “reviewer” but an accomplished writer with a gift for the written word. When did you know that you would become a writer/journalist?
Thank you very much for the compliment. I wanted to become a journalist since I was a kid. Then, having studied cinema at the university, I figured out that my dream was to become a movie critic. I honestly think I don’t have any gift in terms of writing: not being an English native speaker, when I write in English I have to simplify my thoughts, which probably helps making my reviews more immediate and effective. Or so I hope!
4. We all know you can write a mean review. What other forms of writing (for pleasure or profit) do you pursue?
Since I worked as a journalist in England, I used to write about sports and local news. As for now, I write reviews and press releases (my full-time job is PR for Sky Sports in Italy). I can honestly claim I do that for both pleasure and profit
5. Of all of your reviews, what film was deserving of your highest praise regardless if it was a favorite of yours?
It’s really hard to tell. I’d probably go with The Witch (2016) and Train to Busan (South Korea, 2016): they’re two movies I don’t fully love – even though I like them very much – but I couldn’t find any flaw with.
- What is your definitive feeling on remakes/sequels?
In regards to remakes, I think they have reasons to exist/get made only under three conditions: the original is flawed, the original features twists that can be remade with different outcomes, the original is more than 40-years-old and deserves a respectful update to appeal to modern audiences. As for sequels, I like when they try to expand upon the universe created in the first film. On the contrary, when a sequel is purely made to milk money out of people’s pockets and works only as a fan service product, I tend to despise it.
- Who are your all-time favorite horror directors?
Tough call. I will give you five names of horror directors who inspire me the most: Alfred Hitchcock, Wes Craven, Darren Aronofsky, Lamberto Bava (the Italian filmmaker who inspired the work of Dario Argento) and Kim Ji-Woon (who wrote and directed A Tale of Two Sisters and I Saw The Devil).
- Aside from watching horror films and writing what are some of your favorite pastimes or hobbies?
I watch football (soccer, for my American friends) and NBA games every time I can; I read literature – but only a few horror books, I prefer other genres when it comes to novels; I work out and I’m a gym fanatic!
- Have you ever thought about writing a screenplay? If so, would you care to collaborate with me?
As for now, I don’t think I will be able to do that. We have a saying in Italy: “successful people create art, unskilled people review it”! Jokes apart, I prefer sticking to reviewing stuff. But I will do my best to help you if you will write a screenplay, since I’m well aware of how great you are at writing stories
10. What is your all time favorite decade of horror films?
1960s, 1970s and 2010s. I can’t pick only one, sorry!
11. You seem to have an affinity for older horror which is rare for your age. What do you attribute this to?
I think there are two reasons for that, the first one being nostalgia, because most of the horror films I watched in my teenage years date back to the 60s, 70s and 80s. Secondly, I love the slow pace of old movies, because it gives you enough time to become emotionally involved in the characters and the story. Nowadays, slow-paced movies are called artsy, which to me sounds rather inappropriate and silly.
- How many films (horror or otherwise) would you say you watch in an average week?
I’d say I watch 10 to 15 films a week, among which only 3 or 4 belong to the horror genre.
- Horror is such a wonderful, broad spectrum what are your favorite niches or sub-genres? Least favorite?
Lately, I got quite fed up of possessed dolls films, although there are exceptions such as Puppet Master, Dead Silence and The Boy. On the contrary, I think every other subgenre has huge potential: at the moment, I probably have a preference for psychological horror though.
- What is your primary snack of choice while watching a horror film?
I don’t eat while I watch movies, not even in the theatre. However, my girlfriend eats enough chocolate for the both of us when we watch films together!
- Give us a brief breakdown of your process from start to finish in reviewing a movie.
Thank you for this question, I’ll try to be brief in my answer. First of all, I watch movies with a notebook to write down strengths and weaknesses of them, unless I’m in a theatre or attending a screening. Secondly, I think back to what I consider to be the most important features in a horror movie: story, characters, technical aspects, target audience and feeling of uneasiness/fear delivered by the motion picture itself. When I write the review, I give a brief and neutral description of the plot, then I focus on the things the movie did right and those it did wrong. Remember: in this job, even when you love a movie, you have to look for inconsistencies and errors; when you hate a film, you have to try your best to find redeeming qualities (which is something I personally struggle with). I support each and every statement I make with an explanation. Once I published a review, my work is not done yet: I have to discuss with readers and assume that they can change my mind on certain things. In fact, being a professional reviewer doesn’t make my opinion more worthy than the one of the next moviegoer. Ultimately, it’s important to be ready to say: “You’re right, I made a mistake!” whenever the person who criticised one of my reviews brings a valid argument to the table that makes me rethink about what I’ve written.
- Lastly, how can fans of your reviews support your work? Please list any and all links.
You can find me:
At the website https://horrorworld.reviews/
On twitter @horroreviews – https://twitter.com/horroreviews
From the 1st of January on IMDb, where I’ve just been welcomed as a professional reviewer in the critic section
- Thanks very much for your time and insight. Any words of advice to aspiring movie reviewers (such as myself)?
Thank you for this fantastic opportunity and for allowing me to express myself through your pertinent questions. Although you don’t need any specific advice from me, these three steps are what I would suggest to aspiring critics:
- Always explain your statements: saying “this movie is crap” or “this flick is great” without providing your readers with any reason for that is just childish and sign of ignorance.
- Be patient: with your audience, with people around you who might not support you at first and, especially, with yourself. It took me two years to start making money with my website: I left Bloody Disgusting betting on my skills and this decision started to pay off only 2 years down the line… be patient and do things with passion, eventually you will be rewarded!
- Don’t be afraid to state an unpopular opinion. This is the most important suggestion: as a reviewer, the aim is to give people an honest take on a product, not to please them with what they want to hear/read. No matter how many people love a movie, if you think differently and have tools to support your belief, don’t hold back. Ever.
My name is Luca Pincelli and the interviewer is Jimmy Ray Davis.