Recently Darren Aronofsky’s mother! was slapped with an extremely rare “F” CinemaScore from audiences. Despite the film’s initial marketing, mother! is anything but a typical Satanic Panic/hysterical woman thriller. Granted, those familiar with Aronofsky’s work should have been fully aware of what they were getting themselves into as they entered the theater. Nonetheless, it appears “general audiences” were woefully unprepared and reacted as such when given the chance to grade the film. Paramount, the company standing firmly behind the film’s release, has leaned into the controversy, but it remains to be seen if mother! can manage to shirk off the stigma of the dreaded “F”.
To put things in perspective, there have only be 19 films released in the past 31 years to have garnered the bottom-barrel score. Unsurprisingly, a majority of these films fall within the horror genre. For some titles (much like mother!), the audience reaction could come down to “misleading advertising,” by creating a sense of more generic thrills than what the filmmaker truly had in mind. Take 2006’s William Friedkin directed Bug. This was a film whose trailer could leave you to easily believe it was about, ya know…killer bugs. I remember seeing the film on opening weekend to a packed house of people, many of whom got up and left halfway through. Many of those brave souls who stuck it out to the end, let out exhausted, audible groans once the credits began to roll. Personally, I love just how batshit Bug is. I mean, “I am the super mother bug!” is way up there on the list of greatest singular moments in horror history.
While some films with an “F” CinemaScore might just be misunderstood, some are arguably well deserving of their letter grade. Below are five horror films that left audiences understandably unimpressed.
The Devil Inside (2012)
The Devil Inside featured a now infamous ending where amidst the supposed intense climax, the screen cuts to black and refers the audience to a website to find out more. So, yeah, it simply DOES NOT have an ending. Thanks to a mega-successful marketing campaign, the film made it’s money back and then some on the opening weekend. Paramount only paid a million for the rights to release the film and in the first few days it grossed $35 million. That’s great, except it meant the irate film-goers who rushed to see the flick were many, and they were very vocal as well. The above isn’t actually a clip from the movie but, instead, live audience response to the cop-out ending.
I Know Who Killed Me (2007)
Writer/director Chris Siverston was hot off his adaptation of Jack Ketchum’s The Lost when he scored a big name star for his follow-up feature, I Know Who Killed Me. Lindsay Lohan was still considered a hot commodity but was quickly gaining a reputation as a wild child. Unfortunately, production began just as Lohan’s career began to crumble. Production was halted numerous times as Lohan was hospitalized for “dehydration”, an infection from surgery, and ultimately entered rehab. By the time the film was finished and released, there was hope this could be her “come back” flick. Starring as twins, one a stripper with one leg and the other a goody-goody, this was the dark turn Lohan needed to really flex her acting muscles. Apparently, though, they had atrophied.
Alone in the Dark (2005)
Uwe Boll directs a film “based on a video game” that takes very little from the source material, stars a slumming Christian Slater, and Tara Reid plays a scientist which is indicative by the fact that she wears glasses. ‘Nuff said.
The Wicker Man (2006)
Neil LaBute was an indie darling for quite some time. His first two films In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors were both bleakly comic looks at the lowest depths of the male psyche. From there he slowly built up a reputation as a director to watch. When he was announced as being attached to The Wicker Man remake, I knew that if anyone could do it, he could. Perhaps, the biggest error was in casting Nicholas Cage who reportedly took on a lot of control on set. This is one of the more, er…unhinged Cage performances. While his manic mannerisms can benefit certain roles – this was not one of them. Despite being one of the worst horror remakes ever, it will forever be remembered for “the bees!”
Fear Dot Com (2002)
William Malone is a director with a strikingly unique visual style. He conjures images that seem lifted directly from one’s’ nightmares. However, all of that style doesn’t always come together in the form of a cohesive narrative. After the success of his Dark Castle remake of The House on Haunted Hill, Malone brought us Feardotcom. The plot feels reminiscent of any number of J-Horror films (which the J-horror craze hadn’t yet caught on here in the states). If you view this crazy website, you die just a few days later. The word is that the studio stepped in and created a hack-job out of Malone’s film. We may never know if Feardotcom would have been a genre classic otherwise, but what we’re left with is one nonsensical hot mess.
Sure, the list of “F” grade CinemaScores is a short one, and while films like Wolf Creek or Darkness might not deserve the distinction, it’s hard to argue for the films on this list.
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