There are many ways in which films are not judged on their own merits but in comparison with something else. One obvious example is adaptations. As I have written before, I have a problem with the way films that are adapted from other art forms are discussed and appreciated, as when the quality of a film based on a book is measured on how faithful the film is to its source. I have a problem with this because it says nothing about the film in itself; it only says something about the film's relationship with something else (such as a book). When I see a film based on a book, even if it is a book I love, I do not care about that book, I only care about the film. Its fidelity to its source is immaterial.
When you ask a person what they thought about a horror film they have just seen they might say "I didn't like it, it wasn't scary enough." But by this they do not mean that they only like films that are really scary, what they mean is that since this was supposed to be a horror film it was bad because it was not scary enough. To me that is going about it the wrong way. You might be disappointed because the film was not as scary as you thought it to be but that does not make it a bad film. If the film had great acting, great cinematography, a good story, fantastic music and so on, that should be enough. Whether it was scary enough is something else because it is not based on the actual film but the film's relationship to other films, and that is unfair. If you had approached it as "a film" instead of "a horror film" you might have really liked it.
In her review of Pacific Rim (2013) Deborah Ross wrote that "Pacific Rim is a giant monsters v. giant robots film and although written and directed by Guillermo del Toro, who made Pan’s Labyrinth, which was sublime, it’s still just a giant monsters v. giant robots film, and now we have dealt with that". But there is no such thing as "just a giant monsters v. giant robots film". How were the visuals? How was the acting? Did the film stay true to its own inner logic? What did the film's politics look like? Any film can be discussed, analysed and appreciated, and they should be, especially by critics and reviewers. A related situation is when somebody says "It was good for being a horror film." (You can exchange horror film with Western, comedy, musical or, well, any kind of film.) What does that mean? Was it a bad film, because horror films are always bad, even though this one was better than the rest of them? Or was it actually a really good film? But if it was good, then why not just say that, instead of adding a caveat? And compared to which horror films? Was it good on the level of Psycho (1960), Peeping Tom (1960) or Alien (1979)? Any genre has a wide spectrum of films, from the really bad to the really good.