I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: 2014 was a helluva year for film. Sure, there was the same glut of mega-budget superhero flicks at the multiplexes but the under-card was ridiculously deep and varied, much more so than last year (in my humble little opinion, of course). As a matter of fact, I saw so many great-to-amazing films last year that putting together my Best of…lists has been harder than ever.
No matter how many amazing films I saw this year, however, it doesn’t change the fact that there was a fair amount of crap clogging the pipeline, as well. As someone who doesn’t intentionally seek out bad films (I was cured of that after Sharknado became 90 of the most tedious minutes I ever suffered through), I managed to avoid some of the most well-known stinkers this season: had I seen them, I have absolutely no doubt that I, Frankenstein, Ouija and Annabelle would have staked out prime real estate on my Worst of…list. While I might eventually see these clunkers (like Dirty Harry, I know my limitations), there’s obviously no hurry to rush to last place.
No, loyal readers, this list of the worst films I saw in 2014 was arrived at the honest way: no “obvious” ringers here, just a bunch of movies that coulda been contenders but ended up being dog shit. With very few exceptions, I went into all of these films hoping for the best (I will admit that a few of these smelled from the get-go but hope springs eternal) but ended up with the very worst.
Once additional caveat, before we get to the list: as the above title indicates, these were the worst films I saw in 2014, although most of them were actually older films (the oldest being from 2003). Of the 18 clunkers on this list, only three are “officially” 2014 films, although those three are also some of the worst…go figure. Without further ado and in no particular order (other than the ultimate loser, that is), I now present the very worst films that I watched in an otherwise very good year of cinema:
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Visitors (2003) — At first, this creepy little chiller set aboard an isolated sailboat has everything going for it. Once the film tips its hand too soon, however, we’re left sitting through the equivalent of a joke that’s already been spoiled in the set-up. By the midpoint, I just wanted to torch the whole thing and collect insurance money. Set adrift, indeed!
The Hamiltons (2006) — Utterly stupid rubbish about a killer family that stands as one of the most inept things I’ve ever seen. Imagine Dawson’s Creek crossbred with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and you’re close but oh so very far away. The filmmakers just announced a sequel, which gives me endless hope that Leonard Part 7 can’t be far behind.
The Last Rites of Ransom Pride (2010) — A film so dumb that I lost IQ points while suffering through it, I can find very little to recommend this insipid revenge Western. At first, the idea of Lizzy Caplan playing a tough-as-nails outlaw was appealing. Once the film turned into an Awesome Blossom of Awfulness, however, even poor Lizzy couldn’t keep me interested. On the plus side, the film is never boring, although neither is a forced colonoscopy.
Girl Walks Into a Bar (2011) — A gimmick film that manages to fail on each and every front. This is the kind of mess that you get when someone watches Three Days in the Valley and thinks: huh…I bet I could make that even more convoluted and dumb. Congratulations, buddy: hope you’re proud of yourself.
Stay Cool (2011) — Just look at that cast: Winona Ryder, Sean Astin, Josh Holloway, Jon Cryer, Chevy Chase, Dee Wallace, Michael Gross. Going in, I figured this would be, at the very least, an enjoyable romp. Staggering out of the other end, I wondered what the filmmakers were holding over the casts’ heads to make this happen. Blackmail isn’t nice, kids, and should never be used to cast your feature-length film. Always play nice.
Chillerama (2011) — I usually love horror anthologies and this one featured some very interesting directors but the whole mess was D.O.A. I’m absolutely no prude but suffice to say that this unfunny, crude, scatological and unpleasant “comedy” managed to repulse and dismay me in equal doses. Any filmmakers who wastes a national treasure like Ray Wise should be taken straight to the wall, final cigarettes optional.
The Comedy (2012) — I definitely wasn’t the target audience for this mean-spirited “hipster” fest, although I’m also not sure who was. Repetitive, filled with hateful characters and weirdly Dada, at times, The Comedy was the film that proved I’ll never really understand Tim and Eric, no matter how hard I try. The only moment that actually proved “enjoyable” was the ridiculous pew-shuffling scene involving LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. When irony attacks, indeed.
The Kitchen (2012) — Another massively irritating “comedy” about dopey-ass twentysomethings acting like teenagers, The Kitchen managed to earn my ire by completely squandering Laura Prepon. This film stretched credibility so much that it should have been called “Elastic”: just try to keep a straight face during the scene where the Lothario seduces a young woman into pleasuring him through an open window during a busy party. If the filmmakers can’t be bothered to take this shit seriously, why should I?
Butcher Boys (2012) — Once upon a time, Kim Henkel helped write a little film called The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. 38 years later, he collaborated with a couple of amateur filmmakers to create Butcher Boys, which attempts to jumpstart another cannibal clan ala the Sawyers. The only difference between the two films is that Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a bleak masterpiece of staggering power, whereas Butcher Boys is a brain-dead, tone-deaf, ridiculously shoddy, utterly worthless exercise in extreme fanboyism that floors the gas straight into irrelevancy.
Entity (2013) — This one managed to waste an awesome location on yet more asinine found-footage retreads. Along with the inherent sense of deja vu here, the film manages to be unnecessarily confusing, pouring on so many twists that the narrative becomes more than a little pretzel-shaped. Despite one or two convincing moments, this can’t shake the heavy aroma of direct-to-VOD crap.
Paranoia (2013) — Alright, look: there was no way this film was going to be amazing but it should have at least been entertaining, right? I mean, you have Harrison Ford, currently in the middle of his “I don’t give a shit, oh hey: pass the dutchie!” phase, along with Gary Oldman, who always plays a convincing badguy and Liam Hemsworth, that hunky dude from The Hunger Games. It’s set in a world of technological intrigue and features more criss-and double-crosses than you can shake a stick at. In reality, however, this is just another dull as dust, run-of-the-mill, action film that features one of the most tuned-out performances by Ford I’ve ever seen (was he even on-screen with the other actors or was this some LOTR-type CGI magic?). The biggest compliment I can give Paranoia is that it wasn’t the worst film I saw this year, just one of the most useless.
The Moleman of Belmont Avenue (2013) — I tend to love musical genre films, especially musical horror films, so this seemed like a sure-thing going in. Despite the presence of genre vet Robert Englund, however, everything about this feels Poverty Row: the production qualities are student-filmesque, the songs suck, the comedy is broad and stupid and none of the characters are likable. Worse yet, Englund is completely wasted as the aging apartment building Lothario: I threw up, a little, after being forced to listen to Freddy Krueger engage in disgusting phone sex…I’m betting you will, too.
After the Dark (2013) — While the rest of the film is clichéd and full of eye-rolling melodrama, the finale of After the Dark really marks this as something special: as one of the main characters kills himself, you can almost see the filmmakers cackling in glee and rubbing their hands together manically…”Got you, suckers!” In reality, it’s the equivalent of the kid who thinks he’s “winning” at hide-and-go-seek when, in truth, all of the other kids went home hours ago. The only thing truly surprising about the film is that anyone could deliver their lines with a straight face. Pray that none of these idiots ever need to lead us out of the end times.
Lizzie Borden Took an Axe (2014) — Here’s the thing: I didn’t realize this was a Lifetime film until I started it and my little rule about never (well, almost never) turning off a movie had kicked in. I don’t mind Ricci but this was a pretty astounding exercise in terrible filmmaking. Confusing, bombastic for no good reason (the stomping blues-rock that scored several slo-mo scenes was particularly eyebrow-raising) and absolutely ludicrous, this is pretty much good for only one thing: take a shot every time you see the repeated image of Lizzie caving in her dad’s head with an axe and you’ll be seeing stars before the midpoint. You’re welcome…I guess.
Gallowwalkers (2014) — Poor Wesley Snipes…all that time away and this is what we get…ugh…if it weren’t for a spectacularly terrible film on this list, Gallowwalkers might have been the worst film I saw all year. The film is terrible in so many ways but my favorite has to be the fact that all the vampires wear obviously fake, blonde wigs, for no apparent reason: that’s the kind of attention to awful that makes this stupid horror-Western one of the year’s very worst.
Goodbye World (2014) — Part of the way into watching this incredibly stupid film, I began to develop an antagonistic relationship with it: I kept daring it to get dumber, to insult my intelligence a little more and to keep ripping off better films with impunity. Like a true champion, Goodbye World kept calling my bluff and raising the stakes all the way to a phenomenally awful final revelation that basically amounts to some idiot on Facebook destroying the world. You win, Goodbye World…you win.
The Oxford Murders (2008) — I’m a huge fan of Spanish auteur Alex de la Iglesia: huge. In fact, up until I saw his English debut, The Oxford Murders, I had never seen a bad film by him. This, of course, all changed with one of the most insipid, Scoody Doo-esque mysteries of all time. Wasting Elijah Wood? That’s not nice but I’ll allow it. Wasting John Hurt? You’re killin’ me, smalls…you’re killin’ me.
And…drum roll, please…my pick for the very worst film that I had the misfortune of watching in 2014 is…
Jobs (2013) — While all of the aforementioned movies are absolutely terrible, there can be only one ring to rule them all and Jobs is that greasy, golden god. In the face of such organized, massive incompetence, it’s difficult to know where to look first: perhaps we should start with Ashton Kutcher’s “performance,” an acting feat that seems to consist entirely of self-satisfied smirks and raised eyebrows, ala a nerd version of The Rock. Perhaps we can look at the way in which the entire film feels like an extended SNL skit, as if the filmmakers sole goal was to craft the single most ludicrous, unbelievable biopic in the history of the medium. Maybe it’s all true…maybe none of it is…Jobs feels so utterly, completely inauthentic, however, that it’s impossible to take any of it seriously.
This is a film that can, perhaps, best be explained by paraphrasing Dr. Loomis’ famous assertion about Michael Myers: I spent the first 15 minutes trying to figure out if this was a joke and the last 113 minutes wishing it was a fever dream. I’m fully aware that all biopics weave in and around the historical record with impunity: rarely have I encountered a biopic that seems so heavily rooted in fantasy and opinion, however, as if the filmmakers gleaned all of their “facts” from a cursory glance at a Wikipedia page.
And there you have it: the worst film of the entire year, at least of the 350-something films that I managed to watch. Jobs is so bad, in fact, that I saw the movie at the beginning of April and my blood still boils when I think about it, nine months later. It’s a film that can handily join the ranks of such classic turkeys as Gigli or Mac and Me, the kind of thing that could (and should) inspire an entire cult of devoted worshippers: I’ll go ahead and coin the term “Jobbies” before someone else does…you can thank me later.
Coming up, we near the end of our year in review as we get to the big questions: I’ve talked about the films I missed, the ones that disappointed me and the ones I hated…all that’s left is to talk about are all of the amazing films that managed to wash the taste of these duds right out of my mouth.