Since its release, British horror film Ghost Stories, co-directed by Andy Nyman and Jeremy Dyson (pictured below), has been getting pretty rave reviews. “Genius!” wrote a critic quoted in the film poster, “Best British horror for years”, said another piece. But delving into these reviews beyond the catchy taglines, you’ll be hard pressed to find many which discuss the film in full. The vast majority refuse to pass comment specifically on the ending for fear of giving away spoilers. Nyman himself has taken to Twitter to thank professional critics for not spoiling the film in their reviews and request that amateur film bloggers take a similar approach.
This raises the question though: how can you possibly review a film thoroughly without reviewing all aspects of it? Surely, to have a comprehensive discussion and analysis of a film, you must discuss and analyse the film in full, including the ending, even if it gives away spoilers.
To spoil or not to spoil, that is the question
One might argue that critics could pass judgement on a film – or an ending specifically – without giving away details, a simple, ‘the ending is great,’ or, ‘the ending sucks,’ sufficing. But this isn’t enough; a thorough review must explain why an ending is good, bad, or in Ghost Stories case, a massive cop-out. If not, a critic loses integrity and their review lacks transparency.
For films that hinge on a twist, it is even more necessary to discuss spoilers, for the twist is likely the most shocking, thrilling, and important part of the narrative. With a film like Ghost Stories, the twist is what some critics believe elevates the film to ‘a classic,’ and what others believe causes it to fall flat. Without discussing, commenting on, and critiquing such a significant aspect of the story, what is the point in a review?
I don’t intend to single out Ghost Stories, or Nyman himself, though I do take issue with his suggestion that critics and bloggers shouldn’t discuss the film’s ending for this deters a full and fair analysis of the film. If a potential viewer should choose to read a review before having seen the film, that is on them. If they don’t want spoilers, they can watch the movie before seeking out the very arena in which spoilers are intended to be discussed.
If they wish to know whether a certain critic liked a film or not, they can check Rotten Tomatoes – there are no spoilers there, just a plump red tomato or a snotty green splat next to a critic’s name (pictured above). But for these critics’ actual reviews, in-depth pieces of film criticism, there should be spoilers aplenty. Otherwise, where else are spoilers going to be discussed?
Note from DMovies’ editor:
Many distributors and PR agencies require that reviews are devoid of spoilers. The Film Distributors’ Association (FDA) emphatically demands that all pieces do not contain spoilers. Plus some of our readers get quite angry and vocal when they see one!!! So, despite Charlie’s wishes, we shall be keeping our reviews mostly spoiler-free, at least for the time-being!
Image at the top: from Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), one of the most important spoiler case studies in the history of cinema (Hitchcock demanded that no material or even the film trailer disclosed Marion Crane’s murder, which unusually happened in the middle of the film).