Oh hey, I didn’t see you there!
I came to the conclusion that writing a list of the worst films of the year would not be an appropriate way to quantify the amount of pain some of the weaker entries in the genre have caused me this year.
So if we’re talking damages and therapy bills, I figure life comes down to handful of formative moments. Some of these moments are beautiful and grand, others are painful and wretched. For example, there are numerous films this year that would have made my “Top Worst” list – except that many of them in their entirety aren’t as painful as one single second of ‘Creature’. I also don’t want to kick a bunch of poor indie movies while they’re down – no one’s gonna see them anyway. Better to stick to the wide releases.
When Mehcad Brooks’ Niles valiantly dives headfirst into a Louisiana sinkhole to save his heroine from the Creature I was excited. Not, perhaps, in the way that Fred Andrews intended. But the onset of some kind of final confrontation could only mean that my time with Creature was coming to an end. One dissolve cut later, Niles emerges from the mud victorious – holding the villain’s jaw aloft triumphantly. I was mixed. On one hand, the fact that this movie skipped over the final battle meant less minutes I’d have to spend in its horrid company.
But then it hit me. The movie skipped over the final battle. IT SKIPPED THE CLIMAX IT HAD OSTENSIBLY BEEN BUILDING TO. It was the ultimate proclamation of cynicism. Creature was a movie in name only, what it really was was an opportunity to attempt the shadiest opening weekend switch and bait that I’ve ever seen. The fact that this film intentionally and lazily skipped one of the only beats it was required to hit demonstrates that it was never intended to be enjoyed. It was never intended to be anyone’s favorite movie. It was never intended to give the moviegoer a return on their investment. It was only intended to make some quick cash before disappearing from theaters. Thankfully, only the latter came to fruition.
Oh boy. Marti Noxon is a good writer. Really. Many of her scripts for “Buffy” and “Mad Men” truly shine. So I’m not writing her off after this. I have to assume that the studio issued mandates on this project placed her firmly in “remake valley” (tranlsates as “write a brand new story but please arbitrarily include a large amount of elements from the original even if they destroy the overall narrative”).
Of course, the lumpy tributes to the 1985 original are only part of the problem. There’s a whole host of other logic and structural issues. It’s kind of hard to feel for the loss of Evil Ed when he disappears 10 minutes into the film. It’s kind of hard to accept that an 18 year old kid who has never displayed an interest in the supernatural would seek out a magician for advice (why do people in these movies even ask for vampire advice? Never once do they get any kind of information they didn’t already know). It’s kind of hard to like Charley when his only defining characteristic is being a shallow turncoat. Why is it that one particular stake that will bring the victims of a vampire back to their normal selves? Why do we even need to hear about the different types of vampires if you’re never going to show any of them?
The movie even makes the mistake of letting Dave Franco – the only character I wanted to die – live. Fright Night had a great cast and the premise of the original was fantastic – this script negates all of those positives with extreme prejudice.
Yes. There is a scene in Creature where a girl gives her brother a handjob while they spy on another couple having sex. It’s kind of played for laughs but it’s also kind of played for titillation as well – which makes it really creepy and uncomfortable to watch. Sex and slasher movies go together like crab legs and garlic butter, but not like this, man.
Have you ever been mid-conversation at a party, laughing about something with your friends, only to have some sweaty mouth-breathing alcoholic weirdo take the thread of your conversation into some truly sick territory while expecting laughter in return? That’s this scene. That’s this movie.
You know what’s scary? Not showing the monster. Not showing every inch of a monster’s transformation. Not showing too much in general. And if you want to show stuff? Well there’s precedent for doing it well. An American Werewolf In London. The Thing.
What’s not scary is the weightlessness often on display in mode CGI, most chiefly in films like Fright Night and The Thing. Seeing cartoons run around, smashing into things, move in a jerkily unnatural manner and explode in sunshine confetti all the while defying the aesthetic of their surroundings.
I’m not sure when and where the studios lost confidence in the audience’s ability to enjoy something without half-baked pre-viz romping all over the place – but I assure you, they can. In fact the audience doesn’t even seem to really like overuse of CGI. Check your box office receipts brother – and treat the audience with respect. They’ll be higher next time.
I didn’t hate Scream 4 as much as Lauren Taylor. I actually didn’t even think it was a particularly weak entry in the franchise considering that none of the sequels are all that great.
But nothing’s worse than when a movie makes its point (more or less in Scream 4‘s case) and then continues on… and on… and then just rolls over and dies. Everything should have ended back in Kirby’s house. We don’t need Emma Roberts running around a hospital beating Dewey half to death with a bedpan. Or that final one-liner from Neve Campbell. Dollars to donuts Ehren Kruger added that bit.
It’s worth noting that I likely put more effort into the dishonorable mentions than Fred Andrews put into the third act of Creature.