2011 certainly was a year of cinematic ups and downs. It was a year of hunting trolls; murderous werewolves; malevolent faeries; and demonic possession. There were zombies on a plane, sharks in a lake, and vampires buying the house next door. Some of the films were well-worth the high price of admission, and some were so bad, they hurt like an icepick to the eye. Come with me now, as I look back and weed out the ten worst horror movies of last year, and wonder how they actually got a theatrical run:
10. Scream 4
Despite Wes Craven directing and Neve Campbell returning, the Scream series just doesn’t have the appeal which it did in the 1990s. Sure, the twist ending was good, but we, as an audience, just do not care anymore. This latest (and hopefully last) entry in the franchise is nothing more than a tired film which ended up being a parody of itself. Scream 4 is abundant in bland characters and slow scenes, but skimps heavily on the blood and horror in-jokes which made the first three so much fun.
Scream 4 trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D5TsZ6iyaH4
9. John Carpenter’s The Ward
This one had so much promise. Carpenter’s return to feature filmmaking since 2001’s Ghosts of Mars had me giddy with excitement. I was concerned, however, when the filmed opened first in the UK, a full five months prior to its American release. The movie is actually shot masterfully, and there are a few pretty good scares, and a rather gruesome death. What ruined the whole thing was the ending. It all lead up to an ending I’d already seen twice before, and felt sorely cheated, to the point of anger and resentment. This movie could have been something, but instead, it winds up culminating in a total mess.
The Ward trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=buF-keImNYk
8. Fright Night
Like the vampire portrayed by Colin Farrell in the film, Fright Night somehow managed to drain every drop of life, soul, and energy that was the 1985 movie of the same name. Fortunately, unlike the Psycho or Nightmare on Elm Street remakes, this was not a shot-for-shot rehash of the original film. Unfortunately, it was not a fun homage to the original, either, as the Friday the 13th and Dawn of the Dead remakes were. Sure, there was the occasional highlight, such as original vampire Chris Sarandon’s cameo, and David Tennant chewed through his scenes like taffy, but the good was outweighed by the bad. Charley wasn’t even likeable. In fact, he was downright loathsome. The character of Evil Ed went from a loveable, Fangoria Magazine-reading horror geek to a cardboard cutout played by Superbad’s McLovin. Charley’s girlfriend Amy is dull and forgettable. Jerry Dandridge, the evil vampire who lives next door to Charlie sits around and watches TV all night, yet he had the time to build secret passages and high security basement dungeon rooms. Peter Vincent is no longer a washed up actor-turned late night horror host. Instead, he is a Russell Brand/Criss Angel clone. Gone is the human caretaker protecting Jerry during the day, and gone is the charm that made the original movie a roller coaster ride.
Fright Night trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txgGhyjPZGg
7. The Resident
When I heard that this was a new Hammer movie, and starred Christopher Lee, I almost cried with joy. When I watched the film, and found that it centered around Hilary Swank, and was a cross between Sliver and Pacific Heights, I almost cried in anger and disgust.
The Resident trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixZMHng9kFU
6. The Rite
Poor Anthony Hopkins. It seems that he even learned some Italian for the role in this over-long and very dull exorcism snooze-fest. The man whose amazing and truly scary performance as cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter is now reduced to sitting in the rain, watching girls vomit metal nails, and doing magic tricks with a frog for a young boy. I found that there was nothing right about The Rite. To top it off, there is nothing more insulting to me, as an audience member, than when a horror movie says that it is "based on a true story", when we all know darn well it is not.
The Rite trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FhHnP-9iekg
What started with an interesting premise ends up in a giant mess of a waste of video. One of the many ‘found footage’ flicks of 2011, this was definitely the worst one of them all. One day in 1940, the entire town of Friar, New Hampshire walked up a trail into the wilderness together, and only one survivor returned, insane. Some bodies were recovered frozen, some were dismembered, and some never found. Eight documentary filmmakers decide to re-create their exodus, and find out the secret of the “YellowBrickRoad”. The crew start to hear strange 1930s music coming from nowhere, and people start to act strangely. The outrageously horrible ending actually made me look online to explain what I had just seen.
YellowBrickRoad trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RfX78jrrmi8
4. The Darkest Hour
Two American friends (and business partners) go to Moscow to promote their new social media software. They get taken advantage of by a rival, who steals the program and sells it right under their noses. Going to a night club, they meet a couple of ladies, and all hell breaks loose, when alien energy eating will-o-the wisps invade, disintegrating everyone they can find. Produced by Timur Bekmambetov, the guy who made the far-superior Night Watch and Day Watch, The Darkest Hour was shot for 3D audiences to be a visual effects-filled disaster/sci fi/action film. Unfortunately, it was nothing more than a PG-13 version of a dumbed-down War of the Worlds remake, with plenty of bad CGI effects. You knew when a character was going to die as soon as they went into slow-motion. CG effects looked as dated as the ones used in The Lawnmower Man, and the dialogue was just as bad, with lines like: “No human society has existed without booze or religion. That’s why I drink religiously.”
The Darkest Hour trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lf9RIKbKpIo
What started out as an adaptation of a post-apocalyptic/western/vampire graphic novel, Priest took a downhill turn right after the opening credits (which were more entertaining than the entire film!), and became a cliché of every action and sci-fi film ever made. The whole movie was as if Blade and The Postman met Wild Wild West and 30 Days of Night, and decided to have a big CGI party. There’s absolutely nothing new here, as far as plot, character development, or even acting goes. It seems like there was an attempt at making a fun little 3D comic book flick, but some studio head came in, and had added scenes of ridiculous-looking futuristic motorcycles with jet engines(!) on front. Remember Megaforce, in 1982? Now you get the idea. I loved Paul Bettany as Chaucer in A Knight’s Tale, but as an action hero, he is horribly miscast, seeming like he is fumbling around the set. You’ll see every “plot twist” coming a mile away, and the CG vampires seem about as realistic as Joan Rivers’ face.
Priest trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmlo6MyhDXw
2. Red Riding Hood
When you have a movie directed by the person who directed Twilight, stars actors from Twilight, has telepathic werewolves like in Twilight, and is a sappy teen angst supernatural melodrama like Twilight, how it is possible not to compare Red Riding Hood to Twilight? Gary Oldman and Julie Christie, two of the best actors alive, seem like they’re just in it for the paycheck in this horrible excuse for a film. If I had to say one good thing about this mess, it would be the beautiful work of the costume and set designer. Apart from that, this whole thing reeks of a romance novel aimed at tweens, with our female hero having to choose between the love of two men (again, more Twilight similarities), while a werewolf terrorizes her village. When her sister is murdered by the beast, the townsfolk call for Oldman’s character, a famous werewolf hunter, to help them. By this time, our heroine’s only concern is to run away with the boy she loves, and live happily ever after in the woods. What kind of message is this to young girls? Why do the young actors in these movies emote like Hayden Christensen with a hangover? Why did I sit through the whole thing? Some questions are best left unanswered.
Red Riding Hood trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PM8V3cHdSC4
1. The Roommate
Number one on this list can be nothing other than The Roommate. This is one of the most inept “horror” films ever made, and not in a bad-but-good fun way. This movie fails on every single level: the ‘suspense’ scenes aren’t suspenseful; the ‘sexy’ scenes are nowhere near sexy; the camera angles are dull; and the plot was stolen right out from under Single White Female and Fatal Attraction. This is a very predictable, boring, non-scary train wreck of a film which could have been made on a cell phone and uploaded to YouTube and been more interesting. There is no hint of gore or nudity anywhere near this PG-13 glorified After School Special, and I’m still trying to figure out what kind of audience this was aimed at. It may receive good reception playing at a 12 year old girl’s slumber party, as I’m certain that no one will have nightmares after, but then, I’m equally certain that no one will remember anything about it as soon as the end credits roll. I’m not entirely sure that the director has ever seen a horror movie in his life, as his questionable angles, jump scares, and direction all seem to be randomly-timed. Even Billy Zane, who was masterful in Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, seems to be sleepwalking. Then again, it may be what the director was wanting in a performance. Save yourself the trouble with this one – it’s not even worth the dollar rental from those popular DVD rentals machines in your supermarket.
The Roommate trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Mac2rptbQ4
Runner-Up: Faces In The Crowd
Milla Jovovich plays a preschool teacher who is attacked by a serial killer, but can’t remember what he looks like, thanks to a disorder which makes her forget people’s faces as soon as she loses sight of them. This movie is exactly the kind of paint-by-numbers whodunit thrillers that I’m used to seeing Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman star in. Bad, bad, bad, and you’ll guess the ending a mile away. I think that Milla did this film to pay off a new house or something.
Faces In The Crowd trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eqU6xlD6fbA
There you have it – the ten worst theatrical horror movies of 2011. Do you agree or disagree? Leave me a comment below.