Appreciating Movies On Their Own Merits

by Eric Webster

January 18, 2018


I’ve been cohosting the Dark Discussions podcast for over 6 years at this point, and I would be lying if I said it hasn’t changed the way I watch movies. For one thing, I find myself watching movies I wouldn’t have chosen to watch if I didn’t have to for the show. Also, the number of movies I view annually has increased significantly, and at points I find myself feeling like it’s more of a chore than a hobby. That being said, I’ve tried to find some ways to maximize my potential enjoyment of movies I see, because if I stop enjoying movies, what’s the point?

One thing I’ve been trying to achieve is appreciating movies on their own merits. That is to say, I try to approach all movies without positive or negative expectations, and just let the experience happen. This is incredibly difficult to do. However, I think it’s something everyone should strive for, because expectations can destroy your enjoyment of a movie.

I have gotten very upset in the past when there is material in the trailer that wasn’t even in the movie. What the hell! False advertising! It can also be the case that the trailer is created selling a different experience than the movie delivered. The Evil Dead remake really got my ire up in this regard.

I’ve seen the same thing happen to a number of people over the last few years. Two notable examples are The Witch, and It Comes At Night. I saw people railing against these movies because, “The trailer was totally misleading!” I would argue that the trailer has nothing to do with the content of the movie, whether it’s misleading or not. I think both The Witch and It Comes At Night are great movies with bad ad campaigns.

Avoiding trailers also has an added benefit of leaving you as spoiler free as possible. It’s been demonstrated over the past couple of years that the people making the trailers don’t care much if they give away a significant plot point or not. Add to that the internet culture of freeze framing a trailer to dissect its every moment, and the whole thing can really take away some of the movie magic if you delve into it.

There’s a podcaster named Jeff Cannata, who is one of the co-hosts of The /FilmCast, that takes this concept to its extreme, and lives what he likes to call “the unsullied life”, and goes so far as to put on earbuds and avert his eyes during trailers at the theaters. While I don’t go quite this far, I do avoid trailers outside of the theater, and it does help me enjoy movies more. I would recommend that people give it a shot. Remember...the trailers are not made to tell you the truth, the trailers are made to get you in the theater.

So I would encourage people to try to appreciate movies on their own terms. When you see a movie, try to forget everything you know about it going in, and let it be it’s own experience, free of expectations. The people that make the trailer have a different purpose than the people making the movie, and to associate the two things is folly. Avoid as much as you can before seeing the movie, to try to make it as new of an experience as possible. Then *after* you see it, go watch the trailer and see what people are saying about it. I think this approach can help to separate the “work of art” if you will, from it’s existence as a product, and will enhance your enjoyment.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know!