|Dark Road Ratings
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The System Guide
Welcome do Dark Road Ratings explained. In general terms this system should
be easy to understand and use. If you like gore watch movies with a high gore
score, right? Well yes and no. While the system to rate the movies is outwardly
simple and I hope easy to use, it can get a bit more complex and as new features
are added it may be necessary to revisit this page. Here you can take time to
understand as much, or as little of our system as you would like and possibly
better chose your movies. Come back often to find the most up to date guide for
the Dark Road Ratings system.
The bottom six are not as easy to rate in an unbiased manner. Many
horror movies suffer here but they are the elements that make up a
good film. The best horror movies of all time score highly in many of
these areas. These are again overall ratings. One memorable shoot
or one great actor will only help the movies score so much. While the
top five are a sliding scale the bottom six are kept much more simple
with a 1 to 5 rating.
1 – Poor: This movie is very weak in this element. It hurts the
enjoyment of the film at every turn. The element is distracting and
constantly pulls us out of the movie
2- Average: The movie is not strong here. At best it is very average
and while it is far from perfect the poor quality of this element is not
all together too distracting from the film.
3- Good: The element is treated well in the film. It does not stand
out much but this element is doing a good job of bringing us into the
film. A 3 rating would be average with an “A” list movies but
considering most horror is very “B“ list a 3 is considered good here.
4-Exciting: When a movie scores a 4 you are in for a treat.
Something original has happened here that is exciting and fresh in
the crowded horror film fog.
5-Amazing: An element rating of five is a shining example of
filmmaking at its best. A five element will stand out and benefit the
movie from start to finish
Bad acting can distract from the reality of a film whatever that might be, while
good acting can let you go along for the ride. In a high rated movie the
characters will seem real and help convey the overall feel and believability of
The movement of the camera, the beauty and composition of shots. In horror
movies good cinematography will either display beautifully the art of the
filmmaker or make you feel as if you are in the middle of the action. With a
high score in cinematography you will notice that the images you see and the
way they are shown to you seems to have a voice of their own. A score of 1
would be a move in which the camera work becomes distracting, action is too
hard to see, editing too quick or too long or the films lighting becomes
distracting. A score of 2 would be your average movie, pans, tilts, average
Sound is one of the most important elements in film. Horror movies can be
immensely more effective when realistic sounds are used. A high score will
accompany movies with great sound editing, clear dialogue and good use of
surround sound as long as it is not distracting. A low score would follow
movies with little to no surround sound elements, or unrealistic sound effects
or bad sync giving the movie a dubbed look.
Music is a great tool to add more artistic expression to a film. In horror movies
it can be subtle or grand but it raises tensions and enhances emotions. High
scores apply to movies with appropriate or new and original ways to use
music. A poor score would be sparingly using music or music that distracts us
too much from the film with out giving anything back. A 1 score here would
explain a movie that does not use a Music track. (Note: Many great horror
movies are old now and sound tracks may be a bit cheesy by today’s
standards. We still look at the over all effectiveness of this despite the
change in societies musical taste.)
This encompasses the over all story for the film as well as the development of
characters. A good story will cause the film to be interesting and thought
provoking beyond the horror elements in the top five.(the story also plays into
some of them) Realistic or interesting characters in the story will cause us to
become more attached lending to a more intense experience. A movie with a
high story rating could be found with great characters alone or just a deeply
intriguing story and of course a mix of both would be the best. Original ideas
and concepts also help this score.
Reality Factor 1-5
To some people it does sound funny when I say, “I want my slimy alien from
the sewers movie to be realistic.” But this is just what I want. No matter how
odd the story might be, if the characters do not make realistic decisions or
events in the movie seem improbable it pulls you out of the experience. Lower
scores from 1 to 3 will have varying levels of unreality. Very poor special
effects can also pull you away from the reality of the film. Note: with some
movies being very unreal is their charm so don’t hold low scores against them
The top five categories are based on scores from 1 to 10 and state the overall experience of
the movie not just a peek of intensity. A blood and guts slasher film that keeps the camera
drenched in blood from start to finish might rate a 10 with the gore score while a movie with
just as much gooey brain matter fun, but only during certain scenes might rate an 8. The
score is a combined measure of how much and how intense.
0-2 Little or no of the described element.
3-5 Average amounts of the element fitting in with the story yet not dominating the picture
6-8 The filmmakers spend a good amount of effort focusing the film toward this element.
9-10 This film is one of the most extreme examples of the element. The story is bent to
incorporate this element almost constantly
Gore 1-10 Not to be confused with graphic violence the gore score rates just that, blood, guts,
brain matter, goo and slime. The movie might be terrifying or funny but one thing is sure, to rate
high on the Gore Score buckets of blood are spilt. Dead Alive is a perfect example of a top gore
Violence 1-10 Fast action and an unflinching camera, violence is just as it sounds. Brutality and
realistic depictions of death will push a movie towards a high violence rating. High Tension is a
good example of a high violence rating.
Disturbing 1-10 A very popular attribute to modern horror movies. Disturbing imagery will make
us sick and can even cause us to look away. Extremely disturbing imagery often sticks with us
long after the move ends. Torture, deformities, medical procedures, rape and even depictions of
phobias. (Claustrophobia, fear of heights or insects) The hills have eyes is a good example of a
Haunting 1-10 This is an attribute that applies to a wide range of Horror films. It is used to
describe terrifying imagery or events that however unreal seem real. They are hard to shake
after the movie ends. Realistic depictions of ghost or creatures in common places. (Your
bedroom at night while you sleep maybe.) Highly haunting movies are the ones that make you
avoid doing something that mirrors events in the film for a long time. The Blair Witch Project,
Jaws and Poltergeist are some examples of Haunting films.
Tension 1-10 We can call this one the “jump factor”. A high tension score will describe a movie
that spends a lot of time building tension and surprising the audience. These movies keep us on
the edge of our seat and weather we see it coming or not we flinch at the appropriate times.
And the rest.....
Acting - 3 Cinematography - 3
Sound - 3 Music - 3
Story - 3 Reality - 3
The Road to Unbiased Opinion?
Does that make any sense? Can opinion ever be unbiased? I
bring this up to fortify the concept of this rating system. When I
watch and judge a movie I find that it is nearly impossible to not
impart my own feelings and experiences upon the movie. A
simple personal life event, might ruin an otherwise wonderful film
for you; a hated or loved actor, themes or characters to which
you have a preference. I have done my best to create a system
that avoids these personal biases. In doing so I have created
something I hope to be unique but which is also problematic. The
end score for a movie judges how much of an element dominated
screen time, not always its effectiveness. I love to hear what you
think about a movie, how you would rate it and why. If enough
people feel I have miss scored a movie, I can reexamine the film.
My goal is to have a valid ratings system and without your help I
can only go half way. Please see Your Voice to keep in touch.
*Mark of Extreme
This new feature is designed for the hard core horror fans- people that don’t get squeamish
at the sight of blood or jump from the old “cat in a closet” stunt. Our current ratings system
judges the over all amounts of an element in a movie but not necessarily its effectiveness. An
old Slasher film might score very high on the tension meter with a truck load of old jump
scares yet many long time horror fans might find the tension in the film a bit of a let down.
This same concept goes for all the elements and to help with this we have added the Extreme
Whether the movie rates a 1 or a 10 in an element, if the extreme mark is present then the
film has a much better chance of shaking the nerves of even seasoned horror fans. If you see
the extreme mark then be prepared for some very intense moments and the total score will
still represent how much of the overall element is present.
Please write us with any question and I hope this new addition will help better guide horror
fans to the types of movies they want to see.