Now we come to the part where we “honor” the very worst achievements in cinema for the year. Just a quick note before we get started: the rankings shouldn’t be taken too seriously here. It was a somewhat daunting task to narrow it down to just these ten given that a large amount of films could have made the list, but it was even harder to try to rank their awfulness in an accurate way, particularly in the middle of the list. Just know that these are all terrible films that should be avoided at all cost. As usual, if there’s an awful film that you don’t see on this list, it’s probably because there either wasn’t enough room for it or I simply never saw it.
10. Pacific Rim – What do you get when you have robots fighting monsters for two hours with no character development and one of the most repetitive storylines of the year? You get the extremely tedious experience that is Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim.” The film is basically what the trailer made it look like, a big-budget version of “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers,” with twists of “Transformers” and “Independence Day” thrown in. It’s rather shocking that this came from the same great director who has given us such memorable projects as “Pan’s Labyrinth” and the “Hellboy” films. That must have been a rather tempting paycheck to draw him to such a flat, joyless movie. There are those that have referred to it as “fun” and “entertaining,” which merely begs the question: What were they really watching?
9. The Last Exorcism: Part 2 – It was a sequel that nobody asked for, and yet, there it was in all of its unnecessary glory. It’s dumb, pointless, and above all deadly dull as it turns the story into what feels more like a coming of age drama than an actual horror film. At least it has a small sense of humor, though not intended of course, but it’s rather hard not to laugh at the utterly ridiculous ending that showed just how bankrupt of ideas these filmmakers were.
8. The Lords of Salem – Rob Zombie continues his disastrous filmography with this latest dud. “The Lords of Salem” shows that Zombie knows how to handle a camera, delivering some startling imagery throughout the film, but when it comes to his screenplay, he’s completely lost. He spends far too much time trying to find a plot and never getting there, turning this into an incoherent and extraordinarily dull affair. Despite the film only being about 90 minutes, it becomes a battle just to stay awake as it meanders on and on in its flat and unengaging manner. I would like to think that this is the last of his pet projects that we’ll see, but given that he’s been able to churn one out every 2-3 years, unfortunately there’s no reason to believe he’ll stop now.
7. Hell Baby – A horror-comedy that fails miserably in both areas. It hardly came as a surprise to find out that the film was made by Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon, the same pair who were behind the disastrously-unfunny show “Reno 911.” Here, they continue to demonstrate that they have no idea what comedy is or how it works. “Hell Baby” is basically made up of a series of repetitive gags that these two must have thought were hilarious, when in fact they are nothing but sad and laugh-free. The only reason it doesn’t end up further down the list is that they at least manage to keep almost all of the “humor” above the Sandler level. That being said, it doesn’t stop this from being one of the most agonizing experiences of the year.
6. The To Do List – “The To Do List” is the kind of film that makes you wonder how the writer ever thought a story about an inexperienced girl trying to complete a list of sexual acts would be a good idea. The film is nothing but a template for writer/director Maggie Carey to squeeze in as many sexual jokes as possible, using the same set-up over and over again. If there’s one thing that she ends up learning from this disastrous experience, hopefully it’s that a template is nothing on its own and that the awful lowbrow humor is not going to make up for flat characters and a flimsy, clichéd premise.
5. Spring Breakers/The Bling Ring – These two films have to be mentioned together because of their striking similarity in that they are two of the most superficial films made in recent memory. Both films are quite unique in how they ignore character development entirely, while at the same time providing no substance to the story itself. “Spring Breakers” never even feels like it starts, leading to 90 meandering minutes, whereas “The Bling Ring” gets stuck in a repetitive rut very early on and is never able to escape, mainly because of its shallow characters. Without anything for the audience to attach their interest to, these two films go down as some of the most tiresome and tedious releases of the year.
4. A Haunted House – Really bad comedies were one of the worst diseases at the cinema this year, so it comes as no surprise that the top four entries just happen to fall under that category. First up, “A Haunted House,” an attempt at comedy that goes after some really easy targets (including the awful “Paranormal Activity” and “Last Exorcism” films), and yet it doesn’t land a single laugh. Instead, all you can do is sit there and cringe at the lowbrow jokes they’re trying to tell, which are all either racial, sexual, or incredibly juvenile.
3. Movie 43 – While “A Haunted House” was pretty bad, at the very least it didn’t have any talent involved. “Movie 43” doesn’t have the same excuse, boasting a whole slew of stars that includes Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Halle Berry, Terrence Howard, Richard Gere, Naomi Watts, Liev Schreiber, Uma Thurman, Emma Stone, and more. How the filmmakers behind this painfully unfunny “comedy” were able to trick so many big names into being in this disaster is a mystery for the ages. If you’ve ever wondered what a train wreck looks like, you need look no further. From the moment you see those testicles on Hugh Jackman’s chin, you know you’re going to be in for something special, and certainly not in a good way. It merely begs the question of how in the world no one realized that what they were making was complete trash.
2. Grown Ups 2 – Another sequel that nobody asked for, especially given that the first film was a complete disaster. However, here we have Sandler and the gang getting back together to meander through another plotless film, filling up time with random scenes and extremely lowbrow jokes that don’t garner a single laugh. This is one that sets the bar on the ground from the very beginning (it starts with a deer peeing in Sandler’s face) and still somehow manages to go underneath it, once again making you wonder when these guys will actually grow up. They try to cover up the directionless nature of the story with several cameos (Shaq, Steve Buscemi, Tim Meadows, Jon Lovitz, etc.), but it only amounts to more people embarrassing themselves on screen, not only in what they’re asked to do, but also in their desperation for a paycheck. We can only hope that this will truly be the end this time.
1. Scary Movie 5 – It was a tough decision to come to given that these last few films were all just so terrible, but what gives “Scary Movie 5” the edge is the fact that I can’t think of a more tedious time I’ve had watching a film this year. I can’t imagine that even the people who wrote this crap found any of it to be funny. They go for the most infantile, cringe-worthy jokes possible while attempting to make fun of far better movies. It was so bad that there must have been a number of ruined theater seats due to all the squirming the audience does while trying to put up with the onslaught of awful jokes and gags. It’s a shame because the series had started off with a little promise (there are a couple of funny spots to be found in the first two films) before the franchise found its high note in the hilarious third film, but the fourth entry was a huge step down, leading us to this fifth entry that shows just how out of ideas they are. Like with the other unwanted sequels in this list, we can only hope that they’ll kill the franchise before it gets any worse (if such a thing is possible…).
Now playing in theaters: The Wolf of Wall Street, Her, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, Inside Llewyn Davis, American Hustle, Saving Mr. Banks, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Out of the Furnace, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Dallas Buyers Club, Thor: The Dark World, Ender's Game, Carrie, Kill Your Darlings, Gravity
Recent Blu-ray/DVD releases: Insidious: Chapter 2, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, Elysium, The Hunt, Touchy Feely, The Rooftop, Drinking Buddies, Inpractical Jokers: Season One, Planes, Paranoia, The To Do List, Blackfish, Paradise, White House Down, Grown Ups 2, Girl Most Likely, Robotech: The Complete Set, The Way, Way Back
Follow me on Twitter @BeckFilmCritic.