Last week, when I posted my Top 25 Movies of 2014, I was hesitant about doing a Terrible 25 this year, although I’ve done one every year since I’ve been writing for ComingSoon.net. I had very good reasons for this decision, but the main one was that I was worried so many of the worst movies I’ve seen this year were smaller movies that no one had seen anyway, so why kick a puppy when the studios are making plenty of big budget dogs?
While movies like A Million Ways to Die in the West and Winter’s Tale and Transformers were all pretty bad, they still had some amount of competence involved in their production that didn’t entirely make them “terrible.”
The other problem was that some of the movies that did warrant that adjective were so bad I’d already forgotten almost everything about them as my brain is getting filled up with good movies worth remembering.
And then there’s the last category of movies that didn’t screen for critics at all, and by now, we all know better about these movies. If I didn’t have to see them to review, then I generally won’t, and you may notice that I didn’t review many of the movies below for one reason or another.
Anyway, here they are. In my opinion, the 25 worst movies of the year.
25. Mood Indigo (Drafthouse Films) – Michel Gondry’s adaptation of an obscure French novel from 1947 starred three of my favorite French actors, Romain Duris, Audrey Tautou and Omar Sy, but it was seriously weird (even for Gondry) to the point where the tone was all over the place. Sure, I enjoyed some of the DIY visuals and animation Gondry’s become popular for doing, but it got to the point of being zany to a fault, almost making it unwatchable.
24. Before I Go to Sleep (Clarius Entertainment) – Another book adaptation, this one based on the novel by S.J. Watson. Even with such a strong cast, including Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Mark Strong, and a reputable director, it had trouble overcoming the silly premise involving Kidman having a Memento-style amnesia where she forgets everything that happened the day before with a second act twist that just made it even harder to buy.
23. The Quiet Ones (Lionsgate) – One of this year’s many bad horror movies, this one a period piece that tried to put a spin of the “found footage” genre by having a group of students, including Sam Claflin from “The Hunger Games,” studying a young woman who may be possessed by a poltergeist. I’m assuming that like so many other bad horror movies, this was based on real events but they’re made to seem more implausible by the usual horror clichés and cheap scares.
22. The Legend of Hercules (Summit) – I never got around to seeing Dwayne Johnson and Brett Ratner’s Hercules movie later this year, but this one teaming “Terrible 25” regular Renny Harlin and Kellan Lutz mainly failed because it ripped off so many other movies from Gladiator to 300 and Troy and countless others, and it took itself so seriously, which made what was a bad movie even worse.
21. And So It Goes (Clarius Entertainment) – I hate to admit that I’m getting closer to the target age-range for a movie like this romantic comedy that pairs Michael Douglas and Diane Keaton under the direction of Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally), but I’m going to fight my aging tooth and nail because there’s no excuse for such lazy filmmaking that creates a movie that’s so embarrassing to everyone involved. I honestly don’t know what Douglas and Keaton were thinking other than to blindly follow Reiner into this venture and hope for the best. Instead, they ended up with their worst.
20. The Zero Theorem (Amplify) – It saddens me that the latest movie from Terry Gilliam, one of my all-time favorite filmmakers, once again ends up on my Terrible 25, especially since this one was an obvious throwback to Brazil, my #1 favorite movie of all time. I’m sure it didn’t help that it starred my interview nemesis Christoph Waltz hamming his way through an almost impenetrable science fiction concept. At least it wasn’t as unwatchably bad as Tideland, Gilliam’s last movie to make it onto the Terrible 25.
19. Jessabelle (Lionsgate) – While I’ve missed a lot of horror movies this year–partially due to reasons mentioned above–this was one of the really bad ones I did see, the latest movie from Kevin Greutert of Saw fame, which had an eerie setting in the Louisiana bayous, a premise involving voodoo, a cute lead in Sarah Snook and little else. It fell way below the standards created by better horror movies like Oculus and The Babadook.
18. The Love Punch (Ketchup Entertainment) – Again, another movie few people saw, probably for good reason, as Pierce Brosnan and Emma Thompson play a divorced couple who reteam for a romantic caper comedy that has them trying to get revenge on the French billionaire who bought their company and drove it into the ground. This is one of many movies I watched wondering how they found someone to finance it with such an obvious bad script and concept.
17. Walking with the Enemy (Liberty Studios) – Considering my own background, there’s nothing I hate more than including a Holocaust movie on this list. Mark Schmidt’s “inspired by a true story” about Hungarian Jews who dress up in Nazi uniforms to get information to help their community survive was classic case of a group of filmmakers trying to make an important and powerful drama that failed mainly because the premise was handled in such a ridiculous way. And yet, somehow, they managed to coerce Sir Ben Kingsley on board to play a small part as the head of the Hungarian town under occupation by the Nazis.
16. Tasting Menu (Magnolia Pictures) – Meant to be one of those fun, foodie comedies, this Spanish rom-com felt like the type of pap Henry Jaglom has been making over the past few years with a group of actors—some fairly known like Stephen Rea and Finnoula Flanagan—converging on a bayside restaurant on its last night of operation. At its core was a divorced husband and wife who had booked reservations earlier and are stuck having dinner together one last time… and you can probably guess what happens.
15. Young Ones (Screen Media Films) – Jake Paltrow’s futuristic sci-fi Western thriller starring Michael Shannon as a farmer desperately trying to get water for his crops was so incessantly boring, despite trying to be one of these cool indie sci-fi films we get from time to time. Even with the likes of Nicholas Hoult, Elle Fanning and Kodi Smit-McPhee, this one was just so dull and forgettable that really offered little to the genre.
14. The Truth About Emanuel (Tribeca Film) – Again, I saw this movie way back in January and I don’t remember too much about why I hated it, but this Sundance movie really felt like the type of by-the-books overly precious schlock that Sundance sometimes delivers, selling itself mainly based on the presence of Jessica Biel in a fairly small role.
13. White Bird in a Blizzard (Magnolia Pictures) – Hey, look! It’s Shailene Woodley of Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars fame… and she’s naked! Yeah, that was probably the biggest selling point for this adaptation by Greg Araki, who I’ve been kind of hit or miss about in the past. Like other movies on this list, it’s a combination of bad low-budget filmmaking with weak attempts at creating drama that felt misguided despite the generally decent Woodley.
12. Pompeii (TriStar Pictures) – I’m not sure why I’m constantly giving Paul W.S. Anderson the benefit of the doubt especially when he ventures away from his tried-and-true (and generally awful) “Resident Evil” movies to do something different. This was his attempt at a historic epic ala Gladiator and… um… The Legacy of Hercules. Yup, this was another of this year’s long string of bad swords and sandals epics, this one featuring a career low for Kiefer Sutherland as the evil Roman emperor who couldn’t figure out what accent to use. This movie deserved to be buried in lava.
11. Lullaby (Arc Entertainment) – I’m not even sure where to begin with this droopy cancer drama, the directorial debut by Andrew Levitas, which stars Garrett Hedlund as a chain smoker having to pull the plug on his father dying from cancer (played by Richard Jenkins). I think my problems began and ended with the way that cancer was handled in the movie in such an overwrought and cliché-ridden way compared to The Fault in Our Stars. Besides the number of Oscar-worthy actors trying to overcome the awful script, the movie generally looked like absolute crap, proving that Levitas might be better off sticking to producing better filmmakers.
10. The Best of Me (Relativity) – I think this may only be only the second Nicholas Sparks movie I’ve ever seen and I probably was interested in it because it starred two of my favorite actors, James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan. Even with an acclaimed filmmaker like Michael Hoffman at the helm, the movie about a long-lost love affair between two teens reunited decades later was laughably bad, partially due to the Razzie-worthy performance by Sean Bridgers and the fact that Luke Bracey looks nothing like a younger Marsden.
9. Inherent Vice (Warner Bros.) – I’m sure this entry will wake some of you up, because Paul Thomas Anderson has been responsible for some of my favorite movies of all time including Boogie Nights and Punch Drunk Love, plus other greats. His adaptation of Thomas Pynchon was just such a mess as it tried to be an irreverent crime-comedy like the movies of the Coen Brothers, but instead was so confusing and dull that I just wanted it to be over. (And with that, both Paul Andersons made it onto the Terrible 25 this year.)
8. Cavemen (Well GO USA) – Maybe this movie would have been better if it was indeed the film version of the Geiko cavemen who mysteriously got their own network sitcom years ago, but no, this is a lame indie rom-com from Herschel Faber starring Skyler Astin (Pitch Perfect) and Chad Michael Murray, the former as a writer trying to make it in L.A. who is surrounded by groups of dumb male friends. It reminded me how much I really hate Los Angeles and probably always will.
7. Freezer (Anchor Bay Films) – Another movie on my list that I’m guessing no one has seen is this absolutely awful high concept thriller starring Dylan McDermott (or is it Dermot Mulroney?) as a man who wakes up in a restaurant’s walk-in freezer and has to figure out how he got there. Directed by Mikael Salomon, the man behind Christian Slater’s Hard Rain, it had McDermott and Peter Facinelli chewing up the limited scenery with a horrible script that may be the worst attempt at this sort of thing ever done.
6. The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (Lionsgate) – Probably one of the saddest things about the passing of Robin Williams is that it happened right after the release of this terrible movie about a man who learns he only has one day to live so he tries to kill himself. One might think that the thought of Williams being a grouch who swears a lot would be a funny idea… but it was not, and it was even more tragic when this became one of the last films of his life.
5. A Fantastic Fear of Everything (Cinedigm) – Hard to believe that Simon Pegg would make a movie so bad it would make this list, but this was finally released in the States this year. I saw it over two years ago on a visit to England and I don’t remember much about it except that director Crisipian Mills had Pegg running around like a lunatic as a writer of children’s book who wants to be taken seriously as a crime writer who becomes paranoid that someone wants to kill him.
4. Don Peyote (XLrator Media) – You know, I kind of like Dan Fogler, and I think he’s way more talented than the likes of Josh Gad and others of his ilk. I also kind of dug his directorial debut, a horror-comedy from a few years back, but this stoner comedy was virtually unwatchable as it seemed to be a lot of crazy ideas strung together in a way that made Inherent Vice seem coherent.
3. Best Night Ever (Magnet) – Some of you must think I deliberately pick on Seltzer and Friedberg because of all their horrible spoof comedies, Vampires Suck being the last one I’d ever watch after it took the bottom spot in my “Terrible 25” with an all-time low rating of .5 out of 10. Here, they’re doing something different, trying their hand at a found footage comedy, a bit like “The Hangover” but with four actresses playing bachelorettes who get into all sorts of trouble in Vegas. It was pretty obvious that they didn’t have much of a script to work from, and the actresses spend most of the movie running around screaming a lot. Hilarious.
2. I, Frankenstein (Lionsgate) – The creator of Underworld gives it another go with a similar premise of a war between demons and gargoyles with Aaron Eckhart as Frankenstein’s monster as the living weapon that could solve all the problems. This movie was actually so bad it made the later year release Dracula Untold seem like a masterpiece by comparison even though that was almost equally ludicrous. This one really did its best to cater to the younger video game generation with crazy computer battles that were almost as impossible to follow as the awful premise at its core.
1. Devil’s Due (20th Century Fox) – This wasn’t the first found footage movie about demonic possession, but let’s hope it will be the last because it showed the type of incompetence that’s out there when it comes to making horror movies these days. This was a movie that was so bad that I kept a running diary as a tribute to my pal Mike Ryan, and I really couldn’t believe what I was watching as a young couple goes on their honeymoon to a tropical locale where she gets impregnated with a demon baby. If you’ve seen Rosemary’s Baby, you pretty much know what this movie could have been. Instead, it’s a schlocky and cheaply made attempt to suck horror fans into movies ala Paranormal Activity and the like.
That’s it for this year. So how many of the above movies have you seen if any and do you agree or disagree with them ending up on my worst of the year list? Have at it, commenters!