Now for the list that everybody’s been waiting for (Ha, I kid, no one waits for my lists), and is also the most controversial because there are some people who don’t like the idea of a list that’s purely dedicated to discussing films that are deemed bad. I understand that point of view even if I don’t agree with it. I consider this list to be a cleansing, a look back at the films of the year that were the low points so that we can reflect upon them and get that anger out of the system in order to start off the new year properly… that and there are some films that need condemning either because they represent a major issue in the industry or were so poorly made that it still boggles my mind that they were able to find a release. If you want to go back and see my rules or just remind yourself of what I consider to be a good list, yesterday I had my best films list up so now onto the worst. Let’s start with the dishonorable mention!
DISHONORABLE MENTION: THE INCREDIBLES 2
Yep, I’m going to start my worst list with the fourth highest grossing movie of the year that has a 94% on RT, an 80% on Metacritic and a 7.8 on IMDB (At the time of writing). It’s, objectively, one of the most well reviewed and beloved films of the year… and I hate it with every single fibre of my being. I’ve literally hissed when I saw the display selling the DVD copy of it because I hate it so much. Sure, the story is good, the animation is top notch and and voice acting is perfect. It’s hard for me to deny that this is, story wise, a worthy follow up to the 2004 original. So, why is it on my honorable mentions for the worst film of the year? BECAUSE IT GODDAMN GAVE PEOPLE SEIZURES!
Look, I’m not one who believes in censoring art. I’ve sat through some awful things in my time, I’ve sat through Antichrist and Irreversible in a double bill so I have no time for censorship BUT I do believe that it was horrifically irresponsible, borderline negligent, for Disney/Pixar to theatrically release a film that it knew had a large amount of intense strobe lights without warning patrons. It did not tell people about the actual health risk of watching the film until the movie was out and people were already having seizures. It’s nowhere on the poster, none of the trailers mention it, no DVD points this out. This is, without hyperbole, Disney putting the health of children at risk for an artistic decision that they did not need to make. No one warned patrons. Not Disney, not Pixar, not the ratings board (Seriously, why is THAT not part of the ratings process? You can warn me about possibly seeing a boob but not about the fact that I might need hospitalisation afterwards?) I have not stopped screaming about this since I saw it, to the point where I have had friends email me saying “Hey, I just saw this movie you’re probably going to go see, it has strobe lights so be warned about that”
The only reason that I did not put this on the list proper is because it is still a technically good film, albeit with a horrific element that will cause children to have their first seizure. It avoids the list because I’m showing it mercy, I have gone back and forth on this decision all year since I first saw the movie. The worst part about this is that it didn’t impact the box office, Disney gave people seizures and made a billion dollars out of the deal and nothing happened to them. No one sued them, they didn’t have to pull the film and fix it, it just stayed as it was… and I will never forgive them for that, even in 14 years when they release Incredibles 3, I will be furious about this even then.
10: Truth Or Dare
Possibly the most disappointing film of the year, Truth Or Dare actually has a fun concept that could’ve fit right in among the slasher boom of the 90’s. A supernatural game of Truth or Dare causes the players to die in horrible ways should they refuse to tell the truth or makes them do a dare that has a good chance of killing them. The problem is that this film also wanted to be marketable towards a young audience who would care that the girl from Pretty Little Liars was angry at the guy from Teen Wolf and decided to make the film PG 13, therefore removing any horror potential that it had. I’m not saying you can’t do a PG-13 horror film, you absolutely can… just maybe not one that involves weird supernatural death scenes that are meant to shock the audience. It also really doesn’t help that the story is too convoluted, the dialogue is awful and the visual effects used to make the possessed characters look creepy was… well, laughable would be the kind description. This film has a few good moments, namely the rooftop scene and a few lines of dialogue that managed to be mildly amusing, but for the most part it’s an unfocussed uninteresting mess that I, truthfully, couldn’t be more bored by.
9: Show Dogs
Show Dogs is proof that you don’t need to be able to write a good story in order to get a film released, it is nothing short of pure monotony. With a story stolen from Miss Congeniality and a visual style stolen from the sewers, it tries to be a buddy cop movie where a police dog joins a dog show to solve a crime involving the theft of a panda. It has one of the most amazing casts I’ve ever seen and gives them nothing to work with. It got pulled from cinemas to remove a scene that people compared to the grooming of children by pedophiles and, somehow, that’s not the worst thing that this film does. This film wastes YOUR time. It exists, it does nothing with its cast and every “Joke” is painful or not even technically a joke. The only half decent thing about this film is that the animals were cute, but then again the animals were cute in A Dogs Purpose and my feelings about that are well known so “Has a cute animal” can not save a film.
8: Slender Man
Here’s an idea, how about we don’t let Hollywood make more films based upon Creepypastas? Can we just agree that they do not understand this element of the internet and will only do bad things with it? Slender Man shows that you can be gifted a genuinely terrifying concept and screw it up without even trying, probably because you didn’t even try. This film seems to hate itself, it knows that it isn’t good and so it’s going to just try to bore itself to death and it wants to take you down with it. There’s only one cast member who seemed to really care much about what they were doing and even then, they were so hammy that it was honestly just funny to watch. Laughing AT this film is the only way to actually get any form of enjoyment out of it because you’re certainly not going to get scared by it. It’s a discount version of The Ring with a markettable villain that someone else created, so on top of being bland there also isn’t a single original element to the concept. I couldn’t fathom how this film got greenlit other than a desire to try and leap on a trend that’d been dead for well over a decade. No one cares about Slender Man anymore guys, no one. If you’re going to make a film about him then you have to make him terrifying… or you could make him look like dough, whatever works.
7: Holmes and Watson
This spot was originally going to go to the snooze fest The Open House, a deliriously boring thriller with no sense of how thrills work… and then I saw a film that was so bad that even Netflix said “We’ll pass, thanks” and Netflix greenlit multiple Adam Sandler films so it’s not like they have standards so replacing a boring film that Netflix approved of with a film so bad that Netflix said no felt like an easy switch. Holmes and Watson is a parody so bad it makes you yearn for the days of Date Movie or Epic Movie where there was at least something so gloriously random it might elicit a chuckle. Here we not only have a film that is bereft of comedy but doesn’t even understand enough about Sherlock Holmes to successfully parody him. When you can’t even come up with a half decent mystery for him (And the audience) to solve and you can’t be bothered to tell us a good joke, you have wasted my time. A bad thriller is one thing, but a bad comedy is just abysmal. With a cast who are better than this film deserves, it meanders from scene to scene leaving a trail of dead jokes on the way and any good jokes it has are killed by an editor who somehow killed the few funny jokes from the trailer. Normally a trailer for a bad comedy grabs the three good jokes and pretends that the entire film is full of them, I’ve never seen a trailer actively fix the bad timing from the movie in order to actually make the joke work. It’s one of the films you suffer through because you just have to know if they’re somehow going to make any jokes work and you walk out afterwards feeling angry because they didn’t even make the film work.
Possibly the strangest film I’ve seen this year, it’s proof that Netflix has taken to giving a greenlight to anythingthat has a potentially marketable name… or at least, it did when this one came out. Theoretically, this is a Neil Young concert film that has a very poorly structured wraparound story about cowboys and is just a cheap advertisement for Neil Youngs newest album. It’s not even that long, lasting only 73 minutes but it’s an infuriating 73 minutes filled with random imagery that is meant to look dreamlike but ends up looking cheap. The script for the wraparound portions of the film is actual nonsense, the main characters are in the old west but they keep digging up modern day keyboards and at one point Neil Young and Willie Nelson rob a seed bank to get bags of seeds. The music they play apparently has the power to make people float, but it can only make two people float at a time because that’s how many cranes they had available. There are so many shots that’re out of focus that I wonder if they ever looked through the lens to see what they were doing. The only good thing about is is the soundtrack but I can buy that on Itunes without having to look at actual garbage made by people who should be incapable of producing actual garbage by this point in their careers. It’s bad, it’s confusing, and it’s directed by a veteran of the industry who should absolutely know better than to make a film that is this hard to watch.
A Pro-Gun control horror film where we’re meant to root for the gun manufacturer and the villains are the victims of gun violence and the only way to stop them is through gun violence… Did no one think this through for even a second? In an era where there is a mass shooting in the news every day and people are begging for something to be done about it, we instead have to do a supernatural horror film where the victims of Winchester’s guns are the bad guys and we’re meant to root for the woman in charge of the company (Which we do because it’s Helen Mirren, who should be long past having to do this kind of film because she’s goddamn Helen Mirren so I hope to god you paid her SO much money for this one). The concept alone would put this film on the list out of pure principle but it’s also a depressingly ugly film with bad structure and a set that is impossible to shoot on. I understand that it’s based on a story by the real person who lived in that house, but maybe make it so that when you shoot a scene in a small enclosed room I can tell where people are? Good performances do not help a bad script and a total lack of horror. The only time you jump is when you hear a gunshot, and just because it’s a loud sudden bang.
Literally no one asked for this. Literally no one on the planet wanted a remake of that Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn film that is literally about a man taking advantage of a woman’s inability to remember in order to trick her into marriage and eventually sex. That does not fly today and there is no way to make that work. NO ONE wanted it, and absolutely no one wanted them to switch the genders and throw in a little racial stereotyping on top. Changing the genders just removes a little bit of the ick factor from the original… for a moment, until you realise that the changes they made turns the film into a story about how a white woman tricked a Mexican man into becoming a day laborer. I’m still stunned no one on the crew picked up on that, because I caught it within seconds of the first time they have the character walk onto a construction site. This might have been possible to look past if the main cast had some kind of chemistry but they don’t, they barely seem to like each other. The jokes are literally the same as the first movie, to the point where I could lip sync along with the script even though I had only seen the original for the first time earlier that day. A pointless, charmless, remake of a film that didn’t need to be remade and, somehow, was made even more awkward by the change in content.
3: The 15:17 To Paris
The men involved in this film are heroes, no matter what else you say about them that should always be the first thing to point out… but god damn they are not actors. It genuinely feels awful saying that this is one of the worst films of the year because it was made with good intentions, to honor an event where a group of men saved countless lives by stopping a terrorist attack. It was even directed by a man who usually knows how to make a movie… usually. The main performances are bad, but the guys involved aren’t actors… but then the side cast, who are actually actors, are also bad. The script feels wooden and filled unnatural with jarring scene changes that lack any transition. There’s a total lack of focus and the structure is just awful. Even if the guys involved were actors, the dialogue they have is so fake sounding that I don’t even believe a human wrote this and on top of that, one of the four people who took down the terrorist is never brought up. He isn’t even named in the film, mostly because he wasn’t American and this film lives by the motto that the only good people in the world are American soldiers. The only reason I know there was a fourth man is because the film clearly uses stock footage at the end and couldn’t find a way to edit him out. The film makers heart was in the right place but their talent was nowhere to be seen.
2: God’s Not Dead 3
I am not a man who is easily offended. I know it might seem like it based the previous few thousand words but in general it takes a lot for a film to offend me. This one did it. Not only is this film an insult to every atheist on the planet by insinuating that we’re inherently evil and can only be made good by touching the bible, but this film is an insult to the concept of story telling. If you’ve read enough of my reviews you might have picked up on the idea that there is nothing worse to me than squandered potential, and knowing that God’s Not Dead had the actual potential to be a half decent examination on the relationship between a man of faith and a man who lost his just pissed me off. Ignore the obvious stuff about how no one can act, the script is awful, the visuals are awful, the fire motif is irrelevant in every possible way and the entire film is nothing more than propaganda created by a ministry who doesn’t care about film… ignore ALL of that stuff for just one minute and just remember that this film had potential to do something interesting and it decided to go with cheap fear mongering and pathetically poor attempts at propaganda. Maybe we’ll be lucky and the Ted McGinley curse will strike this series and kill it so we never have to think about it again.
1: Fifty Shades Freed
E.L. James is the worst writer to ever pick up a pen and if there is any fairness in this world she’ll retire forever on the pile of money that she made by selling abuse-as-kink to gullible housewives who didn’t bother to look beyond the vague descriptions of borderline rape. This film hurt to watch for more reasons than just the obvious content issue. On its own merits, Fifty Shades Freed is a subpar BDSM film that knows nothing about BDSM, sex, film or vaginas (Literally, Vulture called a gynocologist and confirmed that this film does not understand how you handle vaginas!). It’s the concluding act of a trilogy that finally decided to introduce some kind of drama into the series, but did it so poorly that they may as well have not even bothered. I hate the dialogue that is so objectively bad that it’s amazing there’s a take where the actors didn’t laugh. The actors have literally no chemistry, they can’t even be bothered to keep their eyes on each other while they’re getting married in the opening scene. The film doesn’t even pretend to try and make the contents of the book work in a narrative sense, choosing to ignore how real people work and pretend that it’s totally acceptable for the main character to sexually torture his wife after she’s been held at knifepoint.
Beyond the horrific story, pacing, dramatic and performance issues that this film has, it’s up the top of this list because in a year where we are finally meant to be taking sexual abuse seriously, a film that glorifies it made over 300 million worldwide. It’s a film that hates women… and men… and people, love, romance, sex, the concept of consent and the basics of good film making. It’s a film that hates it’s audience, it thinks you’re stupid for watching it and revels in the fact that it can be a horrific example of the worst storytelling that you could imagine. It’s a film that should not have been made, it serves no purpose other than to cash in on a marketable name and doesn’t even try to do something remotely tolerable with that name. It doesn’t even have the decency to be erotic while it does whatever the hell it’s decided to call film making. I have seen more erotic imagery at the dentist office, and that hurt less and at least the dentist gave me drugs to get through it. I sat through this piece of crap movie sober, that’s just unfair!
I hope more than anything on this earth that this is the last time I will never need to type the name E.L. James, I do not want to see her name as the writer of anything. I know that she’s already written the same books again but from Grey’s point of view (Because, again, she is an awful writer without a drop of originality in her body) and I swear if anyone even considers adapting those, I will come around to their house and bop them on the nose like a naughty puppy who just did a poo on the carpet. This is the top of the list not only because it angered me so much, but because it’s symbolic of a dark time of cinema and here’s hoping that by presenting it up on high as the worst of the year, we can banish it forever into the pits of hell where it belongs.
…I didn’t like it very much, is what I’m very subtly saying here.
And that was my worst list, were there any films that you saw that made you want to rip out your hair and curse the gods for creating it? Well let me know in the comments below and let’s hope that 2019 is a better year for everyone.
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