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Sickle & Efrit's

Horror Rating System

When we first began reviewing horror movies, the discussion arose on what makes a good horror movie. And, even though we have a deep love for horror movies, we also have a great respect for good cinema, and sometimes those two things are not one-and-the-same, objectively. Some of the best horror movies in history are not necessarily "good" films as far as cinematography, acting, script, etc. are concerned. But, some horror bridges the gap between traditional film qualities and conventional horror elements. We thought it was important to convey those distinctions.


So we devised a rating system that defines the quality of a horror film in three distinct categories; Horror Qualifier, Horror Quality and Film Quality. After every review, we rate a film out of ten on these three criteria.


Horror Qualifier

The Qualifier is objectively about defining what makes a film a horror film. Is it more of a thriller, or is it atop the list of what true horror entails? We devised ten elements that we feel every traditional horror movie has. For every quality the movie scores, it gets one point out of ten toward the Qualifier rating. For example, a 10/10 would be a pure horror film, and a 5-7/10 is more in the thriller range. Here are the criteria for the Qualifier:

  1. Fear of death or the unknown

  2. An entity or being is attempting to or causing harm

  3. Haunting atmosphere

  4. Persistent or grotesque violent engagements

  5. Suspenseful moments

  6. Hopelessness conveyed through the protagonist or impressed on the viewer

  7. Protagonist has climactic confrontation with antagonistic force or entity

  8. The setting, location or supporting characters imbue the protagonist and/or audience with dread

  9. Final act revelation, usually perceived from intentional or unintentional deception (commonly unknown to audience)

  10. Antagonistic element or entity has atypical, disturbing, violent, and/or supernatural characteristics.


Horror Quality

Unlike the Qualifier, the Horror Quality is a more subjective category. As desensitized as we are, the quality of the horror in a film is difficult to gauge sometimes. We believe a horror film can be a perfect 10 without reaching the "standards" of traditional Film Quality. Also, a horror film can hit a lot of marks in the Horror Qualifier without being effective with the devices or producing any quality from it. Hence, Horror Quality is its own distinctive criterium. Elements considered in Horror Quality include (but aren't limited to):

  • How does the film compare to other films in the genre?

  • Is it frightening?

  • Is it disturbing or gruesome?

  • Effects work

  • Respect to the genre (through originality, homage or satire)

  • Is it effective in conveying the Qualifier elements?

  • Originality and creativity in effects and/or plot concepts


Film Quality

We believe it is possible to have a great horror film that isn't necessarily a great piece of cinema by "traditional standards". And while we put that in quotations, there are many elements of traditional cinema that we respect, even when it comes to the oft-defiant horror genre. Here, we try to rank the film objectively, as a piece of cinema outside of the horror genre. These are a few of the qualities we consider:

  • Cinematography

  • Originality, creativity

  • Plot

  • Script

  • Structure

  • Acting

  • Is the horror profoundly consequential to the plot/characters/audience?

  • Symbolism and social, political, and cultural commentary

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