I recently has a few conversations with people about posting “Worst of the Year” lists as it’s in a way “kicking a dog when it’s down.” Time could be better spent sending positive energy into the world, but on the same token it’s our job to critique films; we are supposed to provide advice on what you should and shouldn’t see.
With that said, it doesn’t provide me with any pleasure to list out this year’s biggest disappointments – but without the bad, how can we learn from other people’s mistakes? If there’s anything to take away from these films, it’s learning what not to do in film. The biggest lesson this year? Don’t pretend to be a horror fan to cash in on our loyalty (I’m looking at you Smiley).
10. The Devil Inside (January 6; Paramount Pictures)
The “safest” horror movie ever made, featuring a few scares and a bunch if exposition. And while I’ve seen worse movies in my life, the lack of a third act is unforgivable. Who’s idea was it to end the movie with a website link for the finale? Epic fail. A fail for the ages.
9. Aftershock (TBD; Dimension Films)
Eli Roth is easily one of my favorite horror filmmakers, which is why this production was one of my most anticipated at TIFF. Unfortunately, this docu-styled thriller’s tone is unfocused and confusing. I was trying to figure out if is was supposed to be fun, scary, or was it supposed to be mean-spirited in an attempt to convey a message? At one point you’ll see an incredibly awesome gory kill, then there will be a joke or a joke-like death scene, and then rape. It’s impossible to emotionally get behind a movie that’s all over the place. It’s just so bizarre when you have hilarious moments trickled in-between extreme, realistic violence as if to make light of a serious situation. On a positive note, the scope was pretty huge for an indie production, and some of the actual earthquake scenes are great… when the movie finally gets to them.
8. No One Lives (TBD; Anchor Bay Films)
No One Lives, a WWE production, is mean-spirited horror that sets the genre back nearly a decade. It’s an obvious Hostel wannabe bloated with bad characters and acting. Take solice in the fact that the gore is out of control good. If only the filmmakers didn’t take the movie so seriously, it could have been cheesy fun.
7. The Apparition (August 24; Warner Bros. Pictures)
A haunter bogged down with heavy exposition, lack of rules, and a lackluster performance from Sebastian Stan. It’s unfocused and overdeveloped with the fingerprints of studio execs all over it.
6. Lords of Salem (April 26, 2013; Anchor Bay Films)
All the power to Rob Zombie for making the movie HE wants, but there are people out there who rely on him for entertainment. Rob Zombie’s “Sheri Moon” (as I like to call it), also known as The Lords of Salem, is a colorful and crafty spooker that is nothing but a strange shrine to his wife, Sheri. Horror fans will be disappointed and Rob Zombie fans should be too, assuming they don’t fool themselves into believing this is high art. It’s actually self-indulgent art.
5. The Bay (November 2; Freestyle Releasing)
I’m crazy perplexed by the love for The Bay, a film that’s so lackluster even the studio bailed on it (Lionsgate dumped is through Freestyle Releasing). The Found-Footage angle doesn’t really work in this one, mostly because the characters are constantly talking to the camera updating the viewer, while some footage isn’t even seen, just heard (like the cop car scene outside the house). Isopods aren’t scary, and the ending is so laughable that it immediately erases anything you may have found believable. I was so bored watching this that I started to wish I were at work instead. That’s insane.
4. Paranormal Activity 4 (October 19; Paramount Pictures)
I’m a Paranormal Activity sympathizer, meaning it takes a lot to disappoint me. PA 4 is the first in the franchise to do a face plant, tripping on the curb and losing all of its teeth. There’s zero bite, as none of the scares are elevated (unless you take this as a pun), and the mythology seemingly goes backwards. It’s as if I were watching a PA fan film, which is crazy considering how good directors Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman did on PA 3.
3. House at the End of the Street (September 21; Universal Pictures)
To call House at the End of the Street original it would have had to have been released in 1959, one year before Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho hit theaters. This means that the ideas presented are roughly 50 years too late, leaving audiences in a near coma only to be revived by the various shots of Jennifer Lawrence’s T&A. While its not bad-bad, it’s just so poorly conceived that it should have premiered on Lifetime.
2. Berberian Sound Studio (TBD; IFC Films)
I hated this movie with every fiber if my being. It’s pretentious filmmaking that’s loaded with arrogance. While the movie looks stunning, there’s absolutely no substance. It takes forever to get to the point, and when we get to the point, there’s literally nothing there. If anything, I wanted to see what was on the screen, not in the studio.
1. Smiley (October 12; Fever Production)
A jumbled mess of ideas, a plot riddled with holes, and an ending that will leave you frowning, Smiley is an abomination. Made solely to sell to a massive fan base, Smiley proves that no matter how popular you are, people still want to see GOOD movies. Every single facet of Smiley is bad, and the obvious result of poor decision making (from the setting to the cast, plot and gore level). It’s a horror movie made by people who obviously aren’t huge fans of the genre.
Everything bad about Found Footage can be seen in 388 Arletta Avenue, a movie produced by Splice and Cube director Vincenzo. The execution delivers an unbearably bland and generic thriller that’s also visually uninteresting. ParaNorman is a farce that so many people fell for. It’s a horror made for horror fans by people who apparently haven’t seen in a single horror movie in their lives. It’s bland and generic, with a horrible twist. Seemingly nothing is at stake, except for maybe your free time. If anything, the movie looks good, but who cares if there’s no substance to the art? (Commence Bloody Disgusting reader rage!) As for Lionsgate’s The Possession, first and foremost, there’s no such thing as the Devil or demons in the Jewish religion, which make the entire plot a farce. I’m also incredibly aware of the actual dibbuk box story, and followed it almost live on blogs and on eBay. The true stories are 100x more terrifying than anything on screen. I’ve said this about a million times before but loud isn’t scary, and the fact that the family live in an empty house makes everything feel fantastical. It’s not the worst movie ever, but it’s pretty weak sauce.