As 2015 ends, it’s time we look at the films that matter. No, not the likes of “Spotlight”, “Brooklyn” or “Mad Max: Fury Road”, but the worst films on the list. With that in mind, let’s go on to numbers 10-6
10.) Fantastic Four
In a way, I almost felt like leaving this movie out. So much has been written about what’s wrong with it (the fact that it’s horribly edited, directed and written; the awful CG; the obvious re-shoots; the clearly not wanting to be there actors and their performances) that what could I say that hasn’t been repeated already. So I”ll leave those out. Instead, I’ll add two other factors that make this awful that haven’t been talked about enough
1.) There’s actually a kernel of a good idea here. Scenes clearly inspired by body horror (director Josh Trank-who previously did the much better “Chronicle”-mentioned Cronenberg as an influence) and the slightest hint of what happens when somebody is given powers that may be beyond their comprehension-kind of like “Chronicle”. However, the re-shoots and the fact that Trank seems out of his element and unsure of what kind of movie he wants to make ends up crushing all of that. This leads to
2.) It all feels like a Superhero movie that’s embarrassed of what it is. Throughout the film, there is nothing as far as humor, character, intriguing spectacle or all around fun, Pulpy entertainment. What you get instead is a lot of brooding, a lot of exposition that mostly goes nowhere, and a whole lot of nothing. At least pretend you want the audience to enjoy the movie.
I sometimes feel like effective irony has largely died in today’s horror films. Like, take “Zombeavers” for example-a film that feels like it was made by people who expected a cult following soon after, but forgot 1.) that cult movies gain a following usually by accident, or 2.) what makes these kinds of films entertaining.
It’s a story you’ve seen plenty of times before-a group of dumb, horny college kids go to a cabin in the woods, only to run into something evil. In this case, it’s mutated, sorta zombie beavers that also infect their targets and turn them into “Zombeaver” hybrids. The thing however, is that the movie can’t even entertain on a base level ala something like “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers” or “Piranha 3D” (which seems to be an influence). Instead, you get jokes that never go anywhere, characters that are uninteresting at best and annoying at worst, and a lack of anything resembling you know, fun. Instead, it all feels “fun” in that it feels forced.
One could say “Well, it’s a movie called “Zombeavers”, were you expecting it to be good”? Of course I wasn’t. I dig brainless entertainment as much as the next guy. However, I expect at the very least to be mildly amused. Not to be annoyed by something made by people who think they’ve made something funnier than it actually is.
8.) The Gallows
Among other things, I think 2015 will go down as the year the found footage genre went the way of the “torture porn” of the 00’s and the post “Scream” teen horror of the 90’s-something that might have started out as good or okay, but then became something nobody wanted anymore. The Jason Blum produced “The Gallows” fits the “nobody wanted anymore” description to a T.
The story deals with an accident that occurred at a play 20 years ago-one that lead to somebody dying. Years later, a group of incredibly stupid teens decide to honor the dead student by re-staging the events. Not exactly the best way to pay tribute, but hey. Of course, this leads to bad thing happening, as a ghost comes back for revenge.
While it contains every bad cliche in the found footage genre (horrible acting, constant shots of floors, walls and ceilings that are constantly blurry, a general lack of anything resembling creativity or scares-the list goes on and on really) the one thing about the movie that could have potentially been interesting is the fact that the movie is, at heart, a slasher movie. It has the whole “Ten Little Indians” vibe of people getting offed by a killer, but it doesn’t have enough of the exploitable elements (little gore and no nudity), is painfully boring and obnoxious (there are moments where the kids are dumb even by slasher standards) and is all combined with all the terrible parts of the found footage genre.
So, how and why do these movies get made? Simple-they cost hardly anything to make, and tend to gain their budget back within the first week. I understand that from a business standpoint, but come on. Enough is enough already.
7.) Get Hard
Speaking of a movie that thinks it is funnier than it actually is, here’s one with people who should have known better. It features people who you know can be funny (Will Ferrell-who produced it alongside regular collaborator Adam McKay, Kevin Hart and Alison Brie) and was directed and co-written by Etan Cohen (who has worked with Mike Judge on “Beavis and Butt-head”, “King of the Hill” and “Idiocracy”, and was a co-writer of “Tropic Thunder”), who is normally someone you can rely on. How can this tale of a rich jerk who needs someone to prepare him to go to jail go so wrong?
Well, I’ll put it like this: did you know that in prison, you could get raped? I hope you do, because this movie endlessly reminds you of this. It also throws in a lot of homophobia (jokes about gay men in bathrooms) and racism ( plenty of offensive-oh, I mean “politically incorrect”-stereotypes of black men as gang-bangers) and repeated jokes that never land (again with the prison rape). There is nothing here that’s remotely amusing (okay, the bit where they listen to music in the car is kinda funny) and it instead comes off as clueless and at times just cruel.
6.) Taken 3
When the original “Taken” came out, it’s success was something of a fluke. It starred an actor who hadn’t starred in a hit movie in a while, came out in January (rarely a good sign) and outside of it’s arresting ad campaign featuring the now famous “I will find you and I will kill you” speech, didn’t look all that promising. Shockingly enough, it proved not only to be a big hit, but was an effective action movie that re-ignited Liam Neeson’s career.
Now, with the third (and reportedly-and hopefully-final) entry in the series, it becomes apparent that maybe it’s time for Neeson to go back to acting outside of the action genre. That and the fact producer Luc Besson has hit rock bottom as far as producing undemanding action movies are concerned. Featuring some of the worst direction and editing I have ever seen in this kind of thing(seriously, this shit makes Michael Bay seem like a coherent visual genius), uncommitted performances (Neeson and co-star Forest Whittaker-who, when you really think about it, hasn’t done much worthy of note after winning the Oscar for “Last King of Scotland”-seem like they would rather be anywhere else) and lapses in logic that are migraine inducing (how is Neeson’s character trapped in a building that’s about to be destroyed, and then out of it seconds later?), this is action movie making at it’s worst.
Which leads me to another thing-every single thing about the movie not only feels cynical, but feels lazy as well. In a decade that has seen “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “The Raid” movies raise the bar for the action genre, and the likes of “2 Guns”, “The Equalizer” and “John Wick” proving that you can still make fun, undemanding action movies, this is inexcusable. Really, it’s so bad, it kind of made me wish the original “Taken” had never been made.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned for the bottom 5.