When you sign up to review a horror movie these days, you're very often signing up to spend your own money, unless you work for an outlet that will reimburse your ticket and popcorn expenses. Since today's critical community tends to greet most horror fare with a universal 'boo,' even the biggest studio horror films are beginning to drop directly into theaters without so much as an introduction to the press. Actually, that's not quite correct -- introductions are now often being made in ways other than just sitting your average overweight critic down in a seat and showing him something on a screen for two hours.
We recently reported on a special NYComicCon event for Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes II, attended by Craven and the stars of the film. Turns out that, even after that kind of outreach, Fox will not be screening the film for the press. It strikes me as an odd move -- can't we, the ones who took the time to go to the breakfast, at least be trusted to give the film a fair shake? If the studio is so completely sure that newspaper critics will scorch the film, why not screen it for the online press only? Would it be better to offer targeted screenings than simply institute a 'no screenings' policy? Maybe. The big studios haven't lost all faith in their horror products yet -- Warner's is soon to release Hilary Swank's religious-horror film The Reaping and won't be holding it from critics. It will arrive with a press junket and screening slate.