The worst list was much easier for me to make than my ‘best’ list – barely a week went by without me being massively disappointed with something. Overall, it seems the main problem is filmmakers being more in love with their technology than their stories. All of these movies (OK, SOME of them) are well made, but all the bells and whistles can’t make up for a shit script. There’s just way too much mediocrity out there as of late, and looking over this list and next year’s schedule, I fear a 90s style wasteland may be fast approaching. Try harder, studios and filmmakers.
Let the flaming begin!
No one asks much from the Resident Evil movies, but maybe we should, because they’re just getting lazier. The 3D only provided a few decent scenes (more like shots), so I can’t even imagine how dull it was in 2D. And has there ever been a movie more built around amazing coincidences? Claire and Alice happen to crash their plane on the roof of a building that not only provides weaponry and a quick path to the boat that they’re trying to reach, but also Claire’s brother! What are the odds? Probably not as good as the odds that we’ll have to suffer through a 5th film (as always, the RE films gross more and more each time despite basically getting worse).
God gets sick of mankind and decides to send angels to kill everyone. Awesome, right? Well, maybe if Scott Stewart gets to make his proposed sequel(s) it can be. But this “first” film is just a crushing bore; nearly all the awesome parts were in the trailer, and after a decent opening, the movie stops cold as our characters talk and talk and talk and talk… By the time Stewart gets around to having them actually DO something again, the movie’s almost over. Waste of a great cast too.
Anchor Bay’s independent pickups are usually pretty good (Behind The Mask, Hatchet, etc), but for the life of me I don’t know why they didn’t pass on The Rig, a dull, shameless Alien ripoff that boasts a top-billed performance by William Forsythe, who dies about 20 minutes in. It also rips off Armageddon, which is akin to treason as far as I’m concerned. P.S. Don’t believe the box art, which suggests the monster is as big as the rig itself – it’s so small it can apparently sneak into tiny offices unnoticed.
Have you ever wondered why no one ever combined Jumanji with Final Destination? Because it’s a pretty stupid idea. Didn’t stop the makers of Open Graves from trying through. You’d think a movie that ended with Eliza Dushku transforming into a CGI dragonfly would at least be worth a look, but you have to sit through 80 interminable minutes to get there. It’s just not worth it.
So do Friedberg and Seltzer, but you knew that. What you DIDN’T know is that they were so inept at what they do, they couldn’t even get more than a couple of laughs out of making fun of TWILIGHT. Come on guys, this was shooting fish in a barrel, and you missed? Can we stop giving them money now? What’s that? It made 40 million? Ah, shit.
No year’s worst list is complete without an After Dark entry! This year’s sacrificial lamb is easily The Graves, the latest in a never ending “series” of films in which attractive females run afoul of Bill Moseley. But while the genre icon does his best to liven the proceedings (even donning a pig nose for a chunk of time!), he can’t save the incoherent story or piss-poor direction that keeps nearly every single kill or action beat off-screen. And enough with the goddamn digital blood!
Yes. They must. And they should take this pile of shit with them. SPOILER – It’s all fake, a la April Fool’s Day. I saved you 75 minutes.
This trainwreck has been on the shelves for years, and it should have stayed there. Botched on nearly every level a film COULD be botched (casting, effects, plot, you name it, they screwed it up), it’s possibly one of the best “get drunk with friends” movies to come along in ages. Especially since its borderline incomprehensible even without alchohol – why bother staying sober?
Expert guy: “These people, they HATE technology!”
Keith David: “What about the GOOD things technology can do?”
Expert guy: “It doesn’t matter, they hate it!”
Luckily, I was the only one in the theater (on opening night!) for Chain Letter, so I could laugh and laugh to my heart’s content at each and every one of the godawful lines of dialogue that peppered this dull slasher. Hilariously outdated and lacking an actual climax, I will never understand how this thing managed to get a fairly decent theatrical release. At least most folks were wise enough to stay away.
Platinum Dunes’ head honchos Brad Fuller and Andrew Form seem almost proud of the fact that Samuel Bayer turned this movie down a few times before finally being convinced to waste his directorial debut on it. There are a million hungry directors in this town who would KILL for the chance to reinvent Freddy Krueger for a new generation, but they were determined to get a guy who didn’t want to do it. And it shows. Lazy on every level and shockingly dull to boot, not to mention riddled with plot holes that a baby could spot, this is by far the Dunes’ worst film yet (and yes, I’m including The Horsemen). The only good thing I can say about it – they’ve officially run out of “A list” dormant franchises to bring back and kill just as quickly.
And the “WTF??” award goes to: MY SOUL TO TAKE
The trailer might have been generic, but the movie was nothing but. Featuring incomprehensible “teen slang” and a plot involving multiple reincarnations (I think?), Wes Craven’s long delayed return to horror was, if nothing else, a memorable 90 minutes at the movies. When the fact that two of the main characters are actually siblings is something only ‘revealed’ in the final reel of the movie (it’s not a twist, it’s just something they never really clarified), you know you’re watching something special. The needless (but surprisingly decent) post-conversion 3D just added to the wackiness. Easily this year’s The Happening or The Wicker Man.
Most Improved Remake: I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE
By making the antagonists less cartoonish and adding in some actual suspense, this remake was surprisingly enjoyable (I really dislike the original), and instantly catapulted Sarah Butler into the realm of classic female asskickers. And you get to see the guy from Devil’s Chair get a shotgun up the ass!
Least Improved Remake: LET ME IN
Were the folks who raved about this movie paid off or what? Technically fine (except for the laughable CGI vampire kill scenes) and featuring terrific performances by Chloe Moretz and Kodi Smit-McPhee, but Matt Reeves brought absolutely nothing new to a film that’s only two years old. With half a books’ worth of unused material from the original novel, Reeves inexplicably chose to follow the original film practically scene for scene, even finding locations that looked the same. What was the point?
Biggest Surprise: CABIN FEVER 2
After several dozen years’ of delays, Ti West’s sequel finally hit DVD shelves, and we all expected the worst (West’s own dismissal of the film didn’t help). But surprisingly it was a worthy follow up, with gross out gags that would even make Eli gag (swimming pool scene!) and some fun performances by indie stalwarts Noah Segan and Marc Senter. And how can you dislike a movie that uses the Prom Night theme?
Biggest Disappointment: THE WOLFMAN
Maybe they should have let Ti West direct this one. Nearly 200 million spent, rewrites and reshoots that would make the Weinsteins blush, and a woeful casting decision that asked us to believe that Benecio Del Toro was the son of Anthony Hopkins, all combined into one dull mess. The director’s cut improves some things (notably the rushed and practically incoherent first act that played in theaters), and the asylum stuff is great, but when your movie has a climax that makes audiences think “Hey, they’re ripping off that Ang Lee Hulk movie that I hated!”, there’s a big problem. Just proves once again that the more money you throw at a production to “fix” it, the worse it will get.
Most Improved Sequel: LAKE PLACID 3
The 2nd film is one of the worst Syfy originals I’ve seen, but this one’s actually pretty enjoyable, due to a few ringers in the cast (Michael Ironside, Yancy Butler) and a script that takes the crocs beyond the lake and woods for a change. There’s a fun attack on a house (the one Betty White’s character owned in the first film), and the climax takes place in the neighboring town! Plus the FX have improved a bit, making this one of the better Syfy offerings in a while (dim praise, but hey).
Least Improved Sequel: 30 DAYS OF NIGHT: DARK DAYS
The best thing they could have done is ignore the characters from the first film and more or less start from scratch, using any of the dozens of 30DoN graphic novels (and even a few regular novels) as a guide. Instead they used the Stella-fied, underwhelming “Dark Days” followup, and then made things worse by replacing Melissa George with Kiele Sanchez, who had already been a target for genre fans due to her much hated turn on Lost. Add in underwhelming and repetitive vampire action and a boring locale (downtown Los Angeles, ooooh), and you have a template subpar DTV effort.
STILL MIA AWARDS: MANDY LANE and POUGHKEEPSIE TAPES! Last year’s winners come back! They bid farewell to Case 39, their fellow MIA film that was finally released on October 1st against three other genre films (and was the most successful one!). Will next year make these two poor films’ 5th annual appearance in this category? Find out in 365 days!