Friday, 1 January 2016

The Worst Films Of The Year 2015



2015's annual countdown of cinematic crud is overwhelmingly dominated by a film which is ugly head and putrid shoulders above every other movie I saw this year as one of the most unendurable, insufferable pieces of garbage to have ever defiled my eyes. I was actually offended I couldn't award it zero stars on Letterboxd, and felt utterly aggrieved I had to file it away with a massively over-generous 1/2 star rating. Elsewhere, there seemed fewer world class stinkers this year, maybe I'm getting more selective, or probably my brain is so addled from the ordeal of being screamed at by Tom Six's fingers down the blackboard filmmaking, that I've just become far more tolerant of films which are either simply dull or merely too prosaic and uninspired to get worked up about. As such several films residing in most other 2015 'Hall Of Shame' rundowns such as Pixels, Terminator - Genisys, The Visit, Entourage, San Andreas and Poltergeist just sort of drifted from my memory, failing to inspire any sort of lasting rage or disdain, whilst a couple of other celebrated box office bombs from 2015, namely Seventh Son and Jupiter Ascending, I perversely enough rather liked, mainly because of their complete lunacy and deranged ambition. Both films being absolute nonsense of course, but entertaining nonsense, which frankly goes a long way to gaining my admiration......

THE WORST FILMS OF 2015:  


1) THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 - FINAL SEQUENCE
Like a wailing, attention-seeking child desperate to offend and antagonise, the third (....and please let it live up to its 'Final Sequence' tag), Human Centipede instalment is insufferable, puerile, button-pushing trash for morons.
I've absolutely no problem with graphic gross-out gore or politically incorrect sleaze, Hell I've feasted on a steady diet of exploitation, B movies and hardcore horror for decades, but this is such shoddy, amateurish, try-hard garbage, it's not offensive on any level (as much as it tries to be), other than to anybody expecting competent, coherent, watchable filmmaking.
I genuinely couldn't work out if this was supposed to be a self-referential spoof or just a slipshod steaming pile of dog shit full of grating, borderline unwatchable performances, from alleged actors who would fail the audition process for an Ed Wood film. The cast all given ample rope to hang themselves by a narcissistic hack director who's long since disappeared up his own arse, and on the evidence of this witless shambles makes Uwe Boll look like Alfred Hitchcock! In fact said director / writer / troll, Tom Six, turns up in person in this embarrassing mess at one point, and actually struggles to register a convincing portrayal of himself. Dieter Laser meanwhile rants and raves with such scenery-chewing excess he'd even give Michael Bay a migraine! It says something when the best performance comes from porn star Bree Olsen.....and she's absolutely terrible.
Easily the worst film I've endured since the rancid, festering wound which was Pain & Gain. And no, that's not a fucking recommendation! This is just hateful, putrid, lowest common denominator cinematic sewage, which thinks it's far cleverer than it actually is, as it wallows in its own filth like a lunatic smearing their feces over themselves. And yes, I totally understand Tom Six's intention was to get exactly this sort of reaction, still doesn't mean his film is anything other than absolute torture to sit through.

2) TED 2

I'm not sure which was the loudest - the deafening sound of silence as lame jokes rolled by like decaying tumbleweeds, or the grating noise of a barrel being well and truly scraped!
Cards on the table time, I like Family Guy, but away from the surreal insanity afforded by animation, the humour of Seth MacFarlane's big screen outings tend to head straight for the gutter, resorting to feeble gross out gags, boring profanity and an overriding smugness which makes you think he's well and truly lost in his own hype. The original Ted was a decent idea dragged out to the point of irritation, but this sequel is just a lacklustre retread full of puerile abuse (Amanda Seyfried apparently looks like Gollum?), knob gags, semen mishaps and a bizarrely mawkish undercurrent where the film tries to get across its ham-fisted equality message whilst blundering along with an incredibly hit and miss scattershot selection of toilet humour, bong-hit bromance and nerd bashing nastiness.
Charmless, witless, TED-ious. The only person who emerges from this with any credit is Mila Kunis who had the good sense to fall pregnant prior to filming, so couldn't reprise her role. Wise move.

3) THE INTERVIEW
Scatological, wildly misjudged, offensive lowbrow drivel desperately lacking in satirical bite. A witless tirade of toilet humour and banal bromance boredom, quite how such an obviously inflammatory and idiotic idea got past the greenlight stage is anybody's guess. The resultant outcry and controversial reactions were predictable, if wholly disproportionate. That such a lame series of knob jokes caused a major international incident is actually far more comedic and interesting than anything in a film which trades in schoolyard abuse and barrel-scraping racial stereotyping.
It's quite the achievement to make Seth Rogen and James Franco infinitely more detestable than a tyrannical oppressive dictator, but this film somehow manages it. Freedom of speech really does have a lot to answer for! 


4) AREA 51
I'm a sucker for UFO / conspiracy theory stuff of this ilk, which unfortunately means having to suffer a steady stream of second rate sci-fi stinkers like this - there are two more similarly rotten examples further down this list! However, compared to this latest attempt at an X-Files inspired horror hybrid, those dismal duds look like five star masterpieces.
Director / writer / producer Oren Peli is largely responsible for the current wave of found footage movies, being the man behind the Paranormal Activity franchise amongst others, yet here he tries his hardest to hammer a final nail into the genre's coffin with the movie equivalent of an alien anal probe - a horrible, confusing experience, and thoroughly painful to endure.

5) INHERENT VICE
Mis-sold as a Coen Brothers styled comedic crime caper by its slapstick trailer, Paul Thomas Anderson's latest is less The Big Lebowski or indeed The Big Sleep, but rather just a big snore.
Shaggy, baggy, deliberately obtuse and borderline incomprehensible, Inherent Vice is a rambling, impenetrable, paranoid stoner noir, with Joaquin Phoenix's mumbling private detective Larry 'Doc' Sportello staggering his way through a labyrinthine plot which repeatedly ties itself in knots, stumbles aimlessly down narrative dead ends and goes nowhere.Slowly.
About as troublesome to get to grips with as a greased weasel, half an hour into this it dawned on me I had no idea what was going on, and cared even less, as the latest big name star appeared for a pointless cameo before being rapidly forgotten about (Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson and Martin Short, doing an Austin Powers impression by the look of things, randomly add nothing to proceedings). Faced with a further two hours of this garbled, sprawling, frequently leery patience-tester, it's clear to see why this has been labelled a "great walk-out film", but I stuck with it, to discover that in fact it doesn't ever really go anywhere other than drag itself around in a directionless, dope-fuelled stupor, weighed down with a misguided melancholic nostalgia for a fading hippie era. Let's face it, this isn't the first time Anderson has been found wanting, lost in a desperate search for an ending to one of his films. I wasn't exactly over impressed by his previous effort The Master, but compared to this tedious snoozefest that's starting to look like the masterpiece everybody tried to convince me it was!



6) FOCUS
Monotonous, charmless, soporific heist caper full of grating, narcissistic, morally bankrupt characters we are actually supposed to give a damn about, despite them all being universally loathsome. One of its major setpieces which takes place inside a football stadium is frankly one of the most absurdly unbelievable and mind-bendingly stupid sequences ever conceived. Will Smith's downward spiral continues apace. Not signing up for the Independence Day sequel is looking like career suicide at this point.

7) CREEP
Lo-fi, low budget shoegaze psychological shocker which is all stalk & no slash. Found footage, lame jump scares, utter tedium. Amazed this has made it onto so many 'Best Horror Films of 2015' lists, I just found it to be improvised, directionless, uneventful, glacially paced and devoid of any sense of threat or menace.The far more mainstream The Gift told a similar story far more effectively, and even it was nowhere near as great as everybody seemed to think it was!

8) WEREWOLF RISING
It's almost like being back in the VHS era here - a case of a great sleeve / artwork disguising a deadly dull film. This is a turkey in wolf's clothing - low budget, low ambition, lycanthrope trash which could easily pass as one of those schlocky substandard Howling sequels we've all tried to forget ever existed.
This actually has a 2.5/10 rating on IMDB, which frankly is a bit on the generous side. 


9)  LOST RIVER
Somewhere over the rainbow to Lynch / Refn territory, Ryan Gosling's directorial debut is a visually arresting vanity project - ambitious, abstract, arty, but utterly devoid of personal identity. It's more like a montage of divergent styles and influences borrowed from filmmakers he's worked with or admired from afar. In fact it's a bit of a directorial dog's dinner, a confusing jumble of angular ideas and incoherent setpieces which comes across like a sort of overreaching student film from somebody with financial clout and an impressive contacts list. Sure, there's a strong use of colour and lighting in Lost River, and it benefits greatly from a terrific soundtrack, but otherwise it's just a bit of a shocking, shambolic mess I'm afraid, and like its director's frequent screen persona, it's pretty to look at, but utterly aloof and characterless.

10)  FANTASTIC FOUR
I was a big fan of Josh Trank’s debut feature, Chronicle. A fresh spin on the superhero genre, which really got to grips with the underlying notion of what it would be like to suddenly obtain staggering superpowers. What it would entail for a mortal to essentially gain God-like ability, and how such gifts may ultimately become a curse leading to madness, corruption of power, doom and destruction. It’s not much of a stretch then, despite its previous colourful but bland screen incarnations, to see how Trank’s vision could lend itself to Marvel’s Fantastic Four characters. Clearly Fox were sold on his darker, more downbeat concept, but somewhere along the line got cold feet and seemingly took creative control away from their director, as revealed by Trank’s now infamous deleted Tweet / career suicide note.
This version of Fantastic Four which limped into cinemas is for me the year's biggest disappointment, a film with such huge potential which in the end is all build-up and no pay-off. It’s a film which feels severely compromised and truncated - many scenes from the early trailers are missing, character development is incredibly fractured (Jamie Bell’s Ben Grimm is totally forgotten about for a huge chunk of the film and randomly re-appears just in time to get turned into The Thing!), chemistry between the actors is almost non-existent, and the effects-heavy climax (the only notable action sequence in the entire film) is rushed, lacking in spectacle and largely incoherent.
And yet the annoying thing is that there is solid, interesting material here, a hint of what might have been – the moodier, more menacing Chronicle vibes, the Cronenbergian body-horror, all too briefly showcased as our heroes realise the dreadful extent of their life-changing conditions, the emergence of Dr Doom rampaging through corridors like an inter-dimensional Terminator. But clearly such material which deviates away from the family-friendly box-office potential of a summer blockbuster release has been curtailed at best, or excised entirely. We'll probably never get to see Josh Trank's true vision of Fantastic Four, which could well have been a classic, but sadly what remains is all origin and very little originality, and frankly should just be retitled 'Four'.
 


11) THE GUNMAN
12) CYMBELINE (aka ANARCHY - RIDE OR DIE)
13) DISMEMBERING CHRISTMAS
14) PROJECT ALMANAC
15) WE STILL KILL THE OLD WAY
16) KNOCK KNOCK

17) GET HARD
18) HANGAR 10
19) THE PHOENIX INCIDENT
20) THE DROWNSMAN
21) WAX
22) AGE OF KILL
23) BARELY LETHAL
24) MOMENTUM
25) AMERICAN ULTRA. 


WORST ACTION FILM: THE GUNMAN

WORST HORROR FILM: THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 - FINAL SEQUENCE

WORST COMEDY: TED 2

WORST SCIENCE-FICTION / FANTASY: AREA 51

WORST SPECIAL FX: DISMEMBERING CHRISTMAS

WORST SCREENPLAY: THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 - FINAL SEQUENCE

WORST DIRECTOR: TOM SIX  (THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 - FINAL SEQUENCE)

WORST ACTRESS: YOLANDI VISSER (CHAPPIE)

WORST ACTOR: DIETER LASER (THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 3 - FINAL SEQUENCE)

2015'S BIGGEST LETDOWN WHICH SHOULD’VE BEEN GREAT BUT REALLY WASN’T: IT FOLLOWS & FANTASTIC FOUR.
 
 

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