Sometimes a movie leaves a bad taste in your mouth, but it’s difficult to put your finger on exactly why. This is not a problem that the guys behind Cinema Sins tend to experience.
The proprietors of this YouTube channel and site are better and more thorough at explaining a film’s failings than most critics—and they don’t have to worry about balancing their assessments with any token praise either. There are a few different varieties of videos on Cinema Sins, but easily the most popular is the "Everything Wrong With…" series, in which a Sin Counter dings off each of a film’s perceived deficits. These errata might include continuity flaws, faulty logic, wooden acting, or flat-out boringness. Watching a Cinema Sins takedown of a movie you didn’t enjoy provides some hyper-articulate validation of your disdain.
Whether viewers agree with these condemnations, or watch them out of spite, they are indeed watching. The typical "Everything Wrong With…" video garners somewhere in the area of 750,000 views, with marquee editions like The Avengers racking up upwards of 3 million views. Perhaps it’s the format of getting to see so many specific complaints about movies all at once, accompanied by visuals, rather than a written critique that assesses a film as a whole, but these videos have struck a chord with perturbed moviegoers all over.
Co.Create spoke with the creators of Cinema Sins recently about why they are so good at deconstructing what’s bad about movies.
Co.Create: So who are you guys?
Jeremy Scott: Cinema Sins is Jeremy Scott and Chris Atkinson, both of Nashville, Tennessee. We met [when we were] managing movie theaters ages ago and have been good friends since. We’re both big movie fans and online video fans, and the two worlds just sort of merged.
What inspired you to start doing these "Everything Wrong With…" videos?
Chris Atkinson: Just conversation. Just joking around really. We’d experimented with a few different YouTube channels, mostly terrible, that dealt with movies and comedy, but we hadn’t really hit on anything that was working yet. So the idea of a nitpicking critic that was just a few degrees beyond extreme kind of came out of just playing with different types of film criticism and experimenting with different styles.
How do you go about capturing all of a movie’s sins?
Jeremy Scott: It’s pretty straightforward. We both watch the target film several times, jotting down notes for potential sins. Then we put the script together for the final list of sins, record narration, and start editing it all together. We try not to look up anything online about a film’s "mistakes" prior to making our video, though we will sometimes double-check something we’re not positive on to see if others have spotted the same issue.
What are some of the worst offenders, and what is it that makes a bad movie?
Jeremy Scott: Well, as far as the sin counter on the channel, The Room and Iron Man 2 are both up there pretty high. But the sin totals aren’t really intended to be taken that seriously—at least not in terms of comparing one film to another, or determining a film’s greatness. As far as what makes a bad movie in general, a bad movie is made when filmmakers think the audience is stupid. They ask the audience to swallow everything they present and hide behind, "It’s just a movie, so just accept it." Because the suspension of disbelief is forfeited in those cases, we start to have fun with a bad movie’s "to hell with it all" spirit. When you know a certain scene is bad, you may not quite be able to explain why it’s bad, but when you dissect it, when you watch it over and over, you can often see where the filmmakers had lapses in reason.
Has doing this for a while now changed the way you watch movies?
Chris Atkinson: Not really. It’s really an entirely different way of watching a film when you go digging for sins. It’s a more detached kind of thing. The sin lists are really just for laughs, and we’ve even done videos on some of our favorite films. Knowing there’s a flaw doesn’t ruin your favorite film if it’s truly your favorite film. And it’s also worth pointing out that a good number of our sins are just personal observations or references.
What are your plans to expand Cinema Sins?
Jeremy Scott: There are other kinds of content we could apply the sin counter to, for sure, and we’re working on some stuff along those lines. We’re going to let our viewers in on the creation of an upcoming "Everything Wrong With…" video, where they can actually send in sins for the film and get credit on the final video. We’ve also got a music video coming up in July soon that we are excited about. It’s pretty crazy but should be fun.
See some of the greatest, wrongest, hits above.