The Wisdom of Algorithms and Aggregated Data
I want to find some new films to watch this Halloween.
I’m a horror writer but none of my friends are horror fans so I can’t rely on word-of-mouth recommendations. And I want to make the most of the subscriptions I’m already paying for rather than rent or buy any new films.
I collected some data and threw it into this visualisation which looks like a demented spider’s web. Click on the image to view it in its full glory.
I created two lists ordering the films by audience popularity and critic popularity, cross-referenced them and came up with my Top Ten.
Top Ten Best Reviewed Halloween Films on Amazon Prime Video (filtered through Rotten Tomatoes)
- Shaun of the Dead
- The Devil’s Backbone
- Annabelle Creation
- Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
- What We Do In The Shadows
- Dead of Night (1945)
- Evil Dead (2013)
- Blade 2
- Black Sheep
The first seven movies on the list were actually popular with both audiences and critics. The final three films placed highest in the top fifteen on both lists.
Audience Rating On Rotten Tomatoes
- Shaun of the Dead 93%
- K-Shop 90%
- The Devil’s Backbone 89%
- Dead of Night (1945) 86%
- What We Do In The Shadows 86%
- Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 81%
- Blade 2 68%
- Annabelle Creation 67%
- Evil Dead (2013) 63%
- The Exorcism of Emily Rose 60%
- Resident Evil – Apocalypse 60%
- Resident Evil – Extinction
- The Secrets of Marrowbone 57%
- Black Sheep 53%
- Awakening 51%
Critics Rating on Rotten Tomatoes
- Dead of Night (1945) 97%
- What We Do In The Shadows 96%
- The Devil’s Backbone 92%
- Shaun of the Dead 92%
- Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street 85%
- Cockneys vs Zombies 76%
- Black Sheep 71%
- Annabelle Creation 70%
- Byzantium 66%
- K-Shop 64%
- Evil Dead (2013) 62%
- Awakening 61%
- Blade 2 57%
- Wolf Creek 53%
- Carrie (2013) 50%
Selecting the Data
I found Amazon Prime Video’s Halloween Movie Picks list which was promoted across my subscription home page. It initially ran to 70 results. I selected Average Customer Reviews of four stars and above and sorted the results by ‘Featured’. This returned 26 results.
According to its website, Amazon has a complex way of working out what makes a featured product. This includes many variables such as frequency of purchases, whether the item is new – they consider newer items to be of greater interest to consumers – and things like title and description. Amazon usually includes price and postage costs, but as Amazon Prime Video items are free-to-view digital products with a Prime subscription, these variables won’t currently apply to Featured Movie selection.
When I filtered the Halloween Movie Picks results, the first listed films looked like this:
- The Rite (2011)
- Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
- Ghost Ship (2002)
- Shaun of the Dead (2004)
- Eight Legged Freaks (2002)
- Annabelle Creation (2017)
- Carrie (2013)
- The Purge (2013)
- Dark Shadows (2012)
- Mirrors (2008)
None of these movies, with the exception of Annabelle Creation, is recent. They’ve been around for quite some time. I’ve seen eight of them. It’s likely that they’re heavily featured because they’ve been frequently viewed, rented or bought during their digital lifetime on Amazon, not because they’re the best on the list.
I decided to filter the Amazon results against another source: Rotten Tomatoes scores. Rotten Tomatoes aggregates TV and movie reviews from professional critics. Audience ratings are collected from users of the Rotten Tomatoes website.
We all know that critics and audiences can respond very differently to the same movie, especially in the horror genre, so I decided to use both sets of ratings. I think this gives a more reliable list of Halloween movies to watch. I’ve seen exactly half of the films on my list, so at least I have some heavily crowdsourced recommendations to see me through October.
If any horror fans out there have any good movie suggestions for me, do let me know!