by Ken B.
The days following New Year’s Eve are full of regrets for many people. I’d like to talk about the regrets of this past year. Somehow, I feel it would be negligent of me if I let the first days of 2016 go by without writing about the worst movies I reviewed this past year. For various reasons, it’s a lot easier for me to consider a film one of the best rather than one of the worst. (This is why there are only eight titles on the list this year, and there are twenty on my “best of” compilation). It’s also a “singling out” of the things I felt I truly wasted my time on, a kind of annual “cleansing”, and important to me as a movie watcher because it grants me an opportunity to evaluate the things I didn’t like, and have one last reflection as to why they didn’t work for me.
In terms of getting to watch and write about unique, subversive, emotional, or just plain brilliant works, 2015 was a great year for the site. But of course, there are always some disappointments, such as…
8. Suicide Room (Jan Komasa, 2011, reviewed December 9)
I admire writer/director Jan Komasa’s attempts to helm a modern and surreal take on cyberbullying and homophobia, but as he tries to pave new paths and generate an identity, his film loses all concentration and chronological reasonability in the process, becoming a comically melodramatic soap opera of a story, juxtaposingly accompanied by freely dissident visual approaches and a decent group of actors (whose talents are sadly wasted as Komasa’s screenplay wavers erratically).
110 minutes. In Polish with English subtitles. No MPAA rating (contains profanity, sex references, and themes of suicide and self-harm).
7. The Divergent Series: Insurgent (Robert Schwentke, 2015, reviewed August 17)
I think I’m done with this franchise. Insurgent is no better than its lousy predecessor, and suffers from many of the same maladies, most obviously a poorly written script, making outrageous assumptions regarding the inner-workings of the world in which it is set, and blissfully ignoring even thinking about addressing them. Additionally, the screenplay fails entirely at forming any type of structure, with a third act full of ending-like episodes which drag out further, killing the pacing and confirming the film’s status as visually confident and well-acted but entirely disorganized.
119 minutes. In English. Rated PG-13 (contains violence, profanity, and sex references).
6. Project Almanac (Dean Israelite, 2015, reviewed June 23)
We all agree that time travel plots are rich with potential, right? That’s what makes Project Almanac all the more insufferable – it does next to nothing, despite having an extensive field of possibilities. Essentially, director Dean Israelite and screenwriters Jason Harry Pagan and Andrew Deutschman spend a disparaging percentage of the runtime on storylines and sequences which could have popped out of a generic high school movie, and then whip in the time travel twist to make things more palatable. For example, it’s hard to establish individualistic, genre specific elements during a sequence set at a music festival when the film is fixated on said festival rather than developing the plot at hand. Project Almanac also uses a needless found footage motif as well, which doesn’t make me any more sympathetic towards it.
106 minutes. In English. Rated PG-13 (contains profanity and sci-fi violence).
5. Maggie (Henry Hobson, 2015, reviewed September 29)
Director Henry Hobson is proficient at lighting scenes and shooting them, but screenwriter John Scott III runs into a multitude of difficulties when telling the story of Maggie. Constantly bouncing between zombie thriller, family drama, and something resembling a coming-of-age story, the script can’t find a common point between its approaches and so there’s never a unified narrative. Hobson’s direction can’t salvage the production into something satisfying, and neither can the strong performances of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Abigail Breslin.
95 minutes. In English. Rated PG-13 (contains violence).
4. Listen Up Philip (Alex Ross Perry, 2014, reviewed March 15)
For those of you who believe that superhero fanboys are the only ones responsible for vitriolic reactions to negative movie reviews, I will kindly remind you of how a fair number cinephiles react when someone speaks ill of Alex Ross Perry’s Listen Up Philip. I managed to escape the anathema which could have come my way, and I feel that gives me more leverage to repeat my complaints about the picture: It’s about terrible human beings who don’t learn anything, its first ten minutes are a decent short film which is then inexplicably extended into a feature length presentation, and its humor is so obsessed with neurosis that it flies right past that ideal and just becomes unsettling, and not in the way it wanted to be.
109 minutes. In English. No MPAA rating (contains profanity and irritating characters).
3. Coherence (James Ward Byrkit, 2014, reviewed August 25)
Coherence’s infuriating stop-start rhythm is present in its underwritten characters and a choppy editing style which kills any momentum that could have been present. James Ward Byrkit’s production never gets off the ground, squandering what could have been an intriguing, slow-building thriller and instead revealing itself as a messy, half-finished implosion from both visual and storytelling perspectives. The setup of the film is promising, which somehow makes the whole deal infinitely more disparaging.
89 minutes. In English. No MPAA rating (contains profanity and violence).
2. The Ridiculous 6 (Frank Coraci, 2015, reviewed December 19)
Do I really have to talk about this again?
120 minutes. In English. No MPAA rating (contains profanity, sex references, far too much scatological humor).
1. Expelled (Alex Goyette, 2014, reviewed February 25)
Somehow I was generous enough to give Expelled a whole star. I could write full sentences expressing my dislike for it, but why would I want to do that? Perhaps some fragments would do the trick instead. Lazy. Incoherent. Obvious. Intolerable. Goes for the easy joke every time. Ferris Bueller-inspired, but not nearly as clever. Presumes the audience is stupid. Blatant cash-grab. Chances of director having final-cut privilege somewhere between zero and nil. No likable characters. Boring. Dry. Dusty. Dull. Never again. Worst movie I saw in 2015.
85 minutes too long. In English. Rated PG-13 (Contains profanity, can’t remember if there’s anything else because I blocked most of the movie out of my head).
And there you have it. Should luck be on my side, I will never have to talk about any of these movies ever again. Reviews will start back up in a few days (the first one of 2016 will probably be Victoria), and in a week or so I suppose it’ll be time for me to start writing my Oscar prediction posts (has it been a whole year already?).