I mean it: I literally, physiologically cannot bear horror movies in which people are tortured. I get sick to my stomach. I feel like I’m going to faint. I have nightmares for days. My distaste has almost become a phobia. So I don’t watch them. I do all the assignment trading I can so I don’t have to review them. And I count us all lucky that Owen not only has a true appreciation of the genre, but also the deep knowledge of repertory with which to write smartly about what is, after all, a very popular kind of movie.

I admit this here, knowing that one response might be, “It’s your job. Deal with it.” But, see, I’ve been thinking about what makes an honest critic, not to mention a reliable one with whom readers can engage. And I’ve come to the conclusion that owning up to my, let’s call it, weakness is in the end more useful than pretending I can be businesslike about a movie experience that repels me.

Perhaps if it were any other sore spot, shared by professional critics and regular movie-goers alike–maybe a particular love or hatred of chick flicks or underdog sports stories, slow-moving Iranian tales about little kids or quick-talking British pics about colorful thugs — I’d be fine keeping my secret to myself. But my horror when it comes to Saw is too visceral.

And that’s why I’ve spilled my guts. Now you spill yours.

Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie

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