So here I am again, doing my bottom ten and top thirty films of the year. As usual, being totally addicted to movies meant that I tried to see all the films that counted, and even some that I knew I wouldn’t like, but of course personal taste must also come into it [obviously I’d pick a horror over a romantic comedy if I didn’t have time to see both] somewhere especially if you still want to have a social life, and a few I was just unable to view. And I don’t watch quite as many new direct-to-home-viewing movies as much as at least two of my HCF colleagues. But out of the 102 films from 2018 that I saw, here’s my countdown of what seemed to be the worst.
10/ THE GIRL IN THE SPIDER’S WEB
If you want to get a perfect example of how ‘commercial’ Hollywood can dumb something down so it’s a pale shadow of its former self, watch this first blot in director Fede Alvarez’s career that reduced one of the most intriguing heroines in recent years to near blandness, saw Claire Foy give an awkward performance for once, and was crammed full of stupidity [i.e. police miss clues lying on the middle of the floor so our heroine can quickly see them] certainly not being entertaining enough to compensate.
9/ THE SPY WHO DUMPED ME
Actually the action stuff in this wasn’t too bad, but as soon as the astoundingly unfunny Kate McKinnon begun to do her improvisation, things drew to a screeching, irritating halt, while it’s more proof that Mila Kunis can only play one character. It seems that modern comedies are unable to provide good jokes, and it also seems that lazy writing is increasingly becoming the norm [i.e. Edward Snowden is immediately available to crack a password].
8/ TRUTH OR DARE
So how’s this for a surefire horror movie premise? – a game of Truth Or Dare where if anyone tells a lie or refuses a dare, they die, and where it’s best to answer ‘Truth’ because ‘Dare’ can involve having to kill someone, though ‘Truth’ can involve revealing secrets about the characters. And yet this Blumhouse offering royally cocked things up, being sunk right from the offset by bizarre decisions such as making nearly all the characters into unpleasant people, and writing ineptitude, while horror was limited to big smiles on a kid’s tablet photo manipulation app.
7/ PETER RABBIT
This annoying travesty probably had Beatrix Potter turning in her grave, what with Peter having a total personality change and the film being a totally charmless, oddly sadistic piece of irritation where we’re supposed to cheer animals wrecking havoc and even trying to kill humans. Despite me writing for a website called Horror Cult Films, I have a fondness for kiddie animated silliness – but this made even Alvin And The Chipmunks look good.
6/ MILE 22
A confused, eye hurting and brain numbing blur of faces talking, bodies tumbling, guns blazing and vehicles moving that totally wastes the martial arts talents of Iko Uwais because you couldn’t bloody see anything he was doing, this took the quick edit/shakycam school of action filmmaking, something that seemed to be on its way out, to near unwatchable limits, though one had to laugh at Mark Wahlberg’s random rants. Just what is the point of this kind of thing? Surely seeing what’s happening is required in a film?
5/ SLENDER MAN
I guess it’s possible that this feeble teen horror was reasonable in its original form, though I doubt it considering that viewers will still have had to sit through stilted performances, constant supposedly scary scenes pinched from other films, absurdly dark cinematography, and lines like: “He’s like a computer virus except he gets inside your body and messes with you!” But for some reason they decided to hack it up so much so that what was left was an incoherent mess.
The fact that our own David Smith had this as one of his top horror films of the year epitomises how divisive this film has been. I’m afraid that all I saw was a tedious, stupid mess of often extraneous and tenuously connected themes and subplots, made by a director seemingly full of arrogance yet clearly unable to create things like suspense which you’d think important in something like this, and botching all the major so-called horror scenes. Even if you ignore the original Suspiria, this film was is a good argument for not letting filmmakers do what they want.
3/ HOLMES AND WATSON
I’ve been a fan of the World’s Greatest Detective for so long now that I’ll enjoy pretty much anything Holmes related, while also being entirely aware of the possibilities of sending him up. But this was an atrocious so-called comedy, the kind that you laugh at but do so because of the ineptitude of it all. Example of humour: Holmes being sick a lot. It was depressing to see the usually good John C. Reilly in this, but has Will Ferrell, who barely even tried here, done anything good for ages?
2/ MAMMA MIA: HERE WE GO AGAIN
I may the person on HCF who most likes musicals, but the inept Mammi Mia was barely tolerable to me – yet this sequel was even worse. Contradicting the original including one character being alive who was previously dead, and with only two of the younger characters only vaguely resembling their adult selves, it also had a depressing feel that took away much of the supposed joie de vivre, while the makers obviously realised that we were left with the dregs of Abba’s output as we heard half of the original bloody songs all over again.
1/ FIFTY SHADES FREED
“Don’t miss the climax” said the poster, yet this supposed climax was an utter non-event that couldn’t even get it up in the first place. While it was still crammed full of the dreadful writing that’s a feature of this dreadful series, it didn’t even have much of the unintentional hilarity of the first two films, and needless to say was even less sexy. Perhaps the most odd thing about these films is how un-erotic they are, with the total lack of chemistry between the two main stars and it’s rather dangerous Disney-fied version of BDSM. Their otherwise inexplicable commercial success means that there’s a market for films aimed at adults that deal with this kind of subject matter – but don’t expect Hollywood, obsessed with remakes, computer graphics, superheroes and political correctness, to catch on.